UN seeks end to South Sudan violence

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[BBC] The UN Security Council has called on warring factions in South Sudan to immediately end the recent fighting and prevent the spread of violence.

In a unanimous statement, the council condemned the fighting “in the strongest terms” and expressed “particular shock and outrage” at attacks on UN sites.

It also called for additional peacekeepers as a response.

Hundreds are reported killed in clashes between rival groups since Friday.

Forces loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar say government troops supporting President Salva Kiir attacked their positions in the capital, Juba.

A spokesman for Mr Machar told the BBC on Sunday that the country was “back to war” – but Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth described reports of war as “dishonest”.

Calm was restored on Saturday, but fighting resumed on Sunday morning.

Gunfire erupted shortly after Mr Machar (L) and Mr Kiir (R) met on Friday

The UN mission said hundreds of people had sought shelter in its compounds.

UN officials said a Chinese peacekeeper was killed and several Chinese and Rwandan troops injured.

In a statement on Sunday, the US state department said it strongly condemned the latest outbreak of fighting in Juba.

Spokesman John Kirby said Washington had ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel from the US embassy in Juba.

The violence has raised fears of renewed instability, with a 2015 peace deal failing to quell unrest.

Friday’s exchanges were apparently sparked by a shootout between President Kiir’s and Mr Machar’s bodyguards. At least 150 died in the clashes.

The two men met at the presidential palace the same day, and issued a call for calm.

Calm was apparently restored on Saturday but heavy gunfire was reported on Sunday near a military barracks occupied by troops loyal to Mr Machar.

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How did we get here?

South Sudan’s short history has been marked by violence and poverty

July 2011 – South Sudan becomes an independent country, after more than 20 years of guerrilla warfare, which claimed the lives of at least 1.5 million people and displaced more than four million.

December 2013 – Civil war breaks out after President Salva Kiir sacks the cabinet and accuses Vice-President Riek Machar of planning a coup. The war is fought broadly between the country’s biggest ethnic groups – the Dinka, led by Mr Kiir, and the Nuer, under Mr Machar.

More than 2.2 million people are displaced by the fighting. Famine puts the lives of thousands at risk. Tens of thousands of people are reported killed, and Mr Machar flees the country.

There is no dominant culture in South Sudan – the Dinka and the Nuer are the largest of more than 60 ethnic groups, each with its own language and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam

August 2015 – President Kiir signs a peace deal with rebels after a threat of sanctions from the UN.

April 2016 – Mr Machar returns to South Sudan to take up his job as first vice president in a new unity government led by President Kiir.

The move marks “the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan”, Mr Kiir says.

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