U.N. officials say fighting in the world’s newest country has killed up to 500 people in just a few days.
It started Sunday night in South Sudan’s capital city of Juba. A spokesperson for the military said one of its compounds was under attack by armed soldiers. (Via ENCA)
The next day, president Salva Kiir accused soldiers loyal to his former vice-president, Riek Machar, of trying to stage a coup. (Via SSN)
But in an interview with The Sudan Tribune, Machar denied he was part of any uprising, telling the paper:
"What took place in Juba was a misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division, it was not a coup attempt.”
While the cause of the fighting is unclear, the United Nations says it's largely along ethnic lines — warning of a potential civil war. (Via BBC)
Perhaps not entirely surprising. Ethnic and political tensions have gripped the country since it split from neighboring Sudan two years ago.
In July, President Kiir sacked Machar, along with his entire cabinet, in what was seen as a power struggle within the ruling party. Machar has expressed a desire to run against Kiir for the presidency in 2015. (Via NTV)
Following a meeting held in New York to discuss the situation, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement Tuesday urging all parties to stop the fighting.
But as an analysis for the International Crisis Group told The Guardian: “Even if there's a political deal it will be very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle … The impact of this fighting is going to shape the future of South Sudan."
So far, an estimated 20,000 people have taken refuge with the U.N. mission in Juba. President Kiir has imposed a nighttime curfew on the city. (Via United Nations)
The State Department has advised all Americans in South Sudan to leave immediately, and the U.S. embassy has evacuated all non-emergency personnel.