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Fighting continues in South Sudan's capital, death toll rises to 272

Fighting continues in South Sudan's capital, death toll rises to 272

South Sudan

Heavy gun battle has resumed in South Sudan’s capital Juba a day after their fifth independence anniversary marred by violence between rival armed factions.

Government sources have confirmed an increase in the death toll to 272 since the fighting broke between the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) and rival army Sudan People’s Liberation Army – In Opposition (SPLA – IO) on Thursday night, Reuters reports.

The fighting continued early Sunday morning at 8:00 am (5:00 GMT) at the base of the opposition armed group SPLA-IO, led by former rebel leader and now First Vice President Riek Machar, local media reports.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) also reported heavy armed exchange close to their base at Jebel site which is about 5 kilometers from the presidential palace in the capital.

According to local media Sudan Tribune, the SPLA forces loyal to President Salva Kiir attacked the opposition’s General Headquarters where their chief of general staff, General Simon Gatwech Dual, is based.

“Our forces have come under heavy attack this morning. President Salva Kiir’s forces launched the attack,” they quoted Machar’s press secretary, James Gatdet Dak.

Meanwhile on Friday, President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar had called for calm after shots were fired while they were holding a meeting at the presidential palace.

The SPLA Chief of Staff, Paul Malong Awan has told local media that he has issued a stern warning to all commanders and soldiers to ensure no soldier is involved in targeting civilians in Juba.

The United Nations has condemned in the strongest terms the resurgence of violence in the country calling on all parties to put an end to the ongoing fighting and refrain from inflicting further violence against innocent civilians.

The UN Security Council also acknowledged the formation of an investigation committee as ordered by the President and “urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to quickly investigate these attacks, take steps to end the fighting, reduce tensions, and hold those responsible for the attacks to account.”

The African Union has also called on South Sudanese, including the members of the armed and security forces, to support their leaders in their efforts to reconcile the people and to bring back law and order.

The South Sudanese foreign affairs minister, Deng Alor Kuol on Sunday assured the diplomatic representatives in Juba to remain calm as they are working closely on issues pertaining the peace agreement and also investigating the violent incidents.

“On behalf of the President, the Foreign Minister urged the diplomatic community to remain in Juba and support the TGNU and the restoration of peace and security,” he said in a statement cited by Sudan Tribune.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways has suspended flights to the capital Juba due to the security situation.