Renewed clashes have broken out in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, despite calls by the UN Security Council for rival factions to “urgently end the fighting” that has engulfed the city in recent days.
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Hundreds of people, mostly soldiers, have been reportedly killed in the fighting between rival armed groups since Thursday, raising fears of a slide back into all-out conflict in the five-year-old country.
At least 272 people have died, a health ministry source told the Reuters news agency early on Sunday.
“Monday morning began much as Sunday morning began in Juba,” Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from the capital, said.
“Fighting began in Jebel, south-west of the city; there’s also been fighting in Gudele, to the east of the city; and now there are mortar rounds being heard in the downtown area,” he added.
“What this means is that the ceasefire government officials had talked about – the unilateral government-led ceasefire – has not been carried out. The fighting does continue in at least two spots on Monday and that means that whatever peace talks there have been, they have not been successful.”
The latest bout of violence comes hours after a UN Security Council emergency meeting said South Sudan’s neighbours should also help end the fighting and be prepared to send additional troops to bolster the UN mission in the country (UNMISS).
“The members of the Security Council urged an immediate end to the fighting by all concerned and demanded that President Kiir and First Vice President Machar do their utmost to control their respective forces, urgently end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence,” the council said in a statement on Sunday.
Expressing “shock and outrage” at attacks on UN compounds, which killed and wounded Chinese and Rwandan peacekeepers, the council also demanded that civilian sites be protected and warned that “attacks against civilians and UN premises and personnel may constitute war crimes”.