Tag Archives: South Sudan

UN base in South Sudan attacked by ‘peaceful’ mob, dozens dead

Displaced people walk past a U.N. armoured vehicle inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State, March 3, 2014.

Gunmen posing as peaceful protesters forced their way inside the base of the UN mission in Bor, where some 5,000 civilians are seeking protection in the four-month-long conflict, and opened fire, reportedly killing dozens.

At least 48 people were killed and 60 wounded in a brazen attack on the fortified UN compound in northern Jonglei state, where Indian and South Korean UN peacekeepers are stationed, an anonymous UN source told Reuters.

Toby Lanzer, the UN’s top aid official in South Sudan, told the BBC there was a “significant loss of life,” after a mob had approached the UN compound base on Thursday morning under the pretense of wanting to present a petition.

More than 1 million people have fled their homes since violence broke out in mid-December between federal troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against rebellious troops who have sided with Riek Machar, the former vice-president, in 2013.

Tens of thousands of civilians are seeking UN protection from the conflict.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack on innocent civilians and UN personnel marks “serious escalation.”

According to Dujarric, the attack was planned in advance.

“The assailants – a mob of armed civilians – came to the base under the guise of peaceful demonstrators intending to present a petition to UNMISS [the UN peacekeeping mission].”

“The armed mob forced entry on to the site and opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base,” he said. “At the time of the attack there were some 5,000 displaced civilians … inside the base.”

The injured were being treated at the UN compound’s clinic.

The number of displaced civilians in the UNMISS compound has risen to 12,000, according to the UN’s website, adding that thousands of displaced persons assembled near the Bentiu Hospital and the UN World Food Program (WFP) compound.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who just one day before the attack said that up to 1 million people face potential famine as a result of the conflict, condemned the attack, which he said “constitutes a war crime.”

Despite South Sudan gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011, pockets of violence continues to disrupt parts of the landlocked country in northeastern Africa.

At the same time, the instability has put a dent in oil production, a major source of the government’s funds.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Gunfire erupts in army base in South Sudan capital : witness

 

525

(Reuters) – Gunfire erupted inside the main military barracks in the South Sudanese capital Juba on Wednesday, a Reuters witness said, almost three months after fighting between soldiers in the city sparked a broader conflict.

The body of a government soldier lay in the street outside the military headquarters and a column of smoke billowed into the sky from inside the compound, sending panicked residents running through the streets.

It was not immediately clear what started the fighting but it did not appear to be a confrontation between government forces and rebels. Clashes between those two factions have largely been fought in other region’s of the country.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thousands dead in South Sudan violence, UN says

Thousands of people must have been killed in the past week of violence in South Sudan, the top UN humanitarian co-ordinator there has told the BBC.

Toby Lanzer, who is in Bentiu in northern Unity state, said it had been “a devastating week for South Sudan”.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to almost double the number of peacekeepers to 12,500.

Earlier President Salva Kiir said his forces had recaptured the key town of Bor days after it was seized by rebels.

The rebels are led by Riek Machar, of the ethnic Nuer, who has been battling President Kiir, of the Dinka.

The UN also said on Tuesday that it had reports of at least three mass graves.

One was in Bentiu in the north, and two in the capital, Juba.

In a Christmas message, Mr Kiir said “innocent people have been wantonly killed”, adding: “There are now people who are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation. It will only lead to one thing and that is to turn this new nation into chaos.”

‘Palpable fear’

Mr Lanzer told the BBC’s Newshour programme: “I think it’s undeniable at this stage that there must have been thousands of people who have lost their lives.

“When I’ve looked at the hospitals in key towns and I’ve looked at the hospitals in the capital itself, the range of injuries, this is no longer a situation where we can merely say it’s hundreds of people who’ve lost their lives.”

Mr Lanzer also said that the number of people seeking shelter from the fighting was “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands”.

He said that the tensions between different communities in South Sudan was even evident within a UN base he had just visited where some 7,500 people are seeking protection.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said: “There is a palpable fear among civilians of both Dinka and Nuer backgrounds that they will be killed on the basis of their ethnicity.”

The UN says at least 80,000 people have been displaced by the South Sudan crisis – about half of them seeking shelter with the UN.

Late on Tuesday the UN Security Council voted to increase its peacekeepers from 7,000 to 12,500, and its international police force from 900 to 1,323.

It authorised temporary transfers from missions in DR Congo, Darfur, Abyei, Ivory Coast and Liberia.

The council called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities and the immediate opening of a dialogue”.

‘Political solution’

President Kiir earlier told journalists in Juba that his forces had “retaken Bor and are now clearing whatever forces that are remaining there”.

Bor, 200km (125 miles) north of Juba, had been one of the major successes for the rebels. They are believed to still be in control of Bentiu.

Radio Tamazuj said government troops of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army had launched attacks on positions held by Nuer commander and army defector Peter Gadet on Tuesday afternoon in Bor.

Mr Kiir said there was also fighting in the town of Malakal and that his troops were “ready to capture Bentiu”.

President Kiir and Mr Machar have both said they are willing to talk.

However, Mr Machar has said his detained political allies must first be freed, while Mr Kiir says there should be no preconditions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said there could be “no military solution to this conflict. This is a political crisis which requires a peaceful, political solution”.

Mr Kiir has accused Mr Machar, who he sacked in July, of plotting a coup. Mr Machar denies he is trying to seize power.

Sudan suffered a 22-year civil war that left more than a million people dead before the South became independent in 2011.

BBC News – Thousands dead in South Sudan violence, UN says.

Obama may ‘take further action’ to protect Americans in South Sudan – World News

After the safe relocation of Americans from Bor, South Sudan, to the nation’s capital of Juba on Sunday, President Barack Obama said he may “take further action” to keep Americans safe in the midst of escalating violence and fears of possible civil war in the newly formed African country.

Three hundred and eighty U.S. officials and citizens have already been transported out of South Sudan in addition to 300 residents of other countries, Jen Psaki, the U.S. State Department‘s spokesperson, said in a statement.

Obama said in a letter that 46 U.S. military personnel were sent to Bor on Saturday in the evacuation effort.

“As I monitor the situation in South Sudan, I may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our Embassy, in South Sudan,” Obama said.

“The U.S. government is doing everything possible to ensure the safety and security of United States citizens in South Sudan. … For their safety and security, we will not outline specific evacuation plans,” the statement said.

On Saturday, four U.S. service members were wounded when unidentified forces attacked three U.S. aircraft attempting to evacuate Americans from Bor. The involved aircraft and personnel aborted the mission and left the country, Obama said.

While the United Nations sends more peacekeeping soldiers into the violence-stricken country, all civilian officials who are involved with the U.N. Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) have been relocated to Jor, according to the U.N.

“We are not abandoning South Sudan. We are here to stay, and will carry on in our collective resolve to work with and for the people of South Sudan,” Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS Hilde Johnson said in a statement.

The decision came after a UNMISS camp was attacked by about 2,000 armed militants, leaving two Indian peacekeepers and “a number” of South Sudanese civilians dead, according to the U.N.

Violent clashes have escalated in the world’s newest country throughout the week, following what South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir’s government said was a coup attempted by rebels fighting for the former vice president who was dismissed in July.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the violence to stop immediately and for the disparate parties to “resolve their personal differences through dialogue immediately.”

Related:

Fighting spreads in South Sudan as fears grow of civil war

Obama may ‘take further action’ to protect Americans in South Sudan – World News.

Obama warns South Sudan after US soldiers wounded

US President Barack Obama warned the leaders of South Sudan against a military coup Saturday after four US servicemen were wounded in an attack on their aircraft in the increasingly unstable country.

“Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community,” the White House said in a statement.

Obama stressed that the South Sudanese leaders “have a responsibility to support our efforts to secure American personnel and citizens in Juba and Bor,” the capital and a rebel-held flashpoint town in the African nation.

The president’s comments came after three CV-22 Osprey aircraft came under fire in South Sudan as they headed to Bor to help with efforts to evacuate Americans from the country teetering on the brink of a return to civil war.

The attack damaged the tiltrotor aircraft, forcing them to divert to Uganda. The wounded were then flown to Nairobi for medical treatment and are now in “stable condition,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The attack underlined the increasingly dangerous situation in South Sudan, where at least one UN base has also come under attack in recent days, with the murder of two Indian peacekeepers and possibly dozens of civilians.

The United States, Britain, Kenya and Uganda have been carrying out evacuation missions for their nationals.

Oil companies have flown out their workers after the death of at least five South Sudanese oil workers on Wednesday, with Chinese state oil company China National Petroleum Corp confirming it was pulling out its staff.

Oil production accounts for more than 95 percent of South Sudan’s fledgling economy.

The United States has also deployed 45 combat-equipped troops to the country to protect its embassy and personnel.

The hostilities in the poor but oil-rich nation, which won independence from Sudan in 2011, are between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and forces backing his sacked vice president, Riek Machar.

Kiir accuses Machar of having tried to mount a coup, but Machar denies that and claims Kiir is conducting a violent purge.

At least 500 people have been killed in the capital Juba alone in six days of fighting.

Foreigners evacuated, South Sudanese cower in fear

Tens of thousands have been displaced, many seeking shelter at UN bases amid warnings that the impoverished nation was on the brink of all-out civil war.

“I am afraid. I just can’t imagine being forced to become refugees again,” said Susan Nakiden, a South Sudanese woman among the thousands sheltering at a UN base in Juba. The mother of three said she had already been forced to flee her home during the civil war with Sudan.

Local resident John Luga said people were living in fear, whatever their clan.

“Whether they are Nuers or Dinkas, the suffering is for all, the future is not certain,” he told AFP.

South Sudan’s embattled government, meanwhile, said a top army commander in the northern Unity State, Major General James Koang Choul, had defected to Machar’s fast-growing rebel force.

“We have lost contact with the commander… and there are reports he has joined the forces of Riek Machar,” Sudan People’s Liberation Army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP.

Army seeks to take back Bor

Aguer also insisted that government forces were in control of area around Bor, some 200 kilometers north of Juba, and an army operation was underway to take back the town seized by rebels this week.

“There is fighting, but we are supported by air units,” he said.

Although the unrest appeared to start as a result of a political spat, the violence has taken on an ethnic dimension pitting Kiir’s ethnic Dinkas against Nuers, to which Machar belongs.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan as part of a peace process after a two-decade civil war that left two million dead, but it has never been able to heal its own ethnic rivalries.

US Secretary of State John Kerry underlined Obama’s message in a call to Kiir, telling him the conflict was threatening South Sudan’s hard-won independence that was backed by the United States.

Kerry has dispatched his special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, to the region to encourage talks between the warring factions.

African ministers have also stepped up pressure on Kiir to start talks with Machar.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an end to hostilities and urged the leaders of Sudan’s warring factions “to resolve their personal differences through dialogue immediately.”

via Obama warns South Sudan after US soldiers wounded | i24news – See beyond.

South Sudan rebel leader ‘captures key state’

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar says his troops have captured the key oil-producing state of Unity.

The former vice president also said on Saturday that the forces under his command fighting the government now have control of much of the country.

The political crisis began a week ago, after President Salva Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup. Reports say at least 500 people have been killed in the violence since then.

On Friday, Kiir reportedly agreed to participate in an “unconditional dialogue” to end deadly violence in the African country.

The president made the commitment to a team of mediators sent to Juba by the African Union in an effort to end fighting in which hundreds of people have been killed, said UN Security Council President Gerard Araud.

Kiir has “apparently agreed to enter into unconditional dialogue,” Araud said after an emergency Security Council meeting on the crisis in South Sudan.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon again called for renewed peace efforts on Friday, amid rising concerns that heavy fighting between rival army factions is pushing the two-year-old nation into civil war.

“The secretary general reiterates his call for all parties to exercise restraint, and to cease hostilities,” said a statement from Ban’s office.

The UN chief urged opposition leaders “to demonstrate compromise and leadership on behalf of the Southern Sudanese people, and to resolve their personal differences through dialogue immediately.”

The fighting between troops loyal to Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group, and opposition leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, erupted around Juba on December 15.

The South Sudanese president accused his arch-rival and former deputy, Machar, of attempting to topple his government, but he said the coup attempt had been foiled.

The government said on Tuesday that ten senior political figures had been arrested after the alleged coup attempt.

Machar has denied Kiir’s accusation that he had led a coup attempt.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.

The government in Juba is grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation, left devastated by decades of war.

PressTV – South Sudan rebel leader ‘captures key state’.

NewsSouth Sudan – 400-500 dead in clashes between rival army factions

At least 73 soldiers killed; UN urges sides to refrain from ethnic violence; US pulls out some embassy staff

Rival troops were locked in fresh battles in South Sudan’s capital on Tuesday in unrest that has killed at least 73 soldiers and sent thousands of terrified civilians fleeing since an alleged coup bid.

The fighting in the world’s youngest nation has set off alarm bells in the international community, with the United Nations urging the warring groups to refrain from ethnic violence.

President Salva Kiir on Monday accused soldiers loyal to his arch-rival, former vice president Riek Machar, of staging a coup attempt in the oil-rich but deeply impoverished nation.

A military hospital doctor said at least 73 soldiers have been killed in the fighting, which erupted late on Sunday in the capital Juba.

Sporadic clashes could be heard Tuesday in several parts of Juba, even though Kiir had announced that the city was under complete control.

The United States on Tuesday ordered all non-emergency embassy staff to leave South Sudan amid an eruption of fierce fighting, and urged all Americans to depart as well.

“The Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency US government personnel from South Sudan because of ongoing political and social unrest,” it said in a statement, adding the mission in Juba would suspend normal operations for the time being.

Up to 13,000 people have fled to UN compounds to escape the clashes, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday after talks with the country’s president.

Ban called on Kiir to make “an offer of dialog” to his opponents to end deadly fighting that erupted Sunday, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

A top UN envoy said at least 10,000 civilians “have received protection in the two UNMISS compounds in Juba”, and that UN staff were “taking every possible step to ensure their safety”.

The special representative of the UN secretary-general, Hilde Johnson, said it was “paramount” that the conflict did not assume ethnic dimensions.

“At a time when unity among South Sudanese is more needed than ever, I call on the leaders of this new country and all political factions and parties, as well as community leaders to refrain from any action that fuels ethnic tensions and exacerbates violence,” she said in a statement.

The African Union also said it was “deeply concerned” about the events and urged all players to show “maximum restraint” and work towards a resolution.

The heavy fighting and the alleged coup has underscored the fragility of the nation which only became independent from Sudan in 2011.

Machar — who was sacked in July — leads a dissident group within South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), and had been seen as the main challenger to Kiir.

The two men hail from different ethnic groups and had in the past fought on different sides during Sudan’s long civil war.

South Sudan won its independence in July 2011 after its people voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to split from the north and form a new nation.

Awash with guns after the long war, the country has struggled with ethnic violence and corruption.

An aid worker with the British charity Oxfam, Emma Jane Drew, told AFP by telephone that the situation in Juba was “very tense”.

“It’s continued shooting. Shooting could be heard all through the night. We don’t know who is fighting who,” she said, adding her team was unable to leave their compound.

Communications down, airport closed

The independent radio station Tamazuj said clashes were taking place around compounds belonging to Machar or his loyalists.

Officials have said several former government ministers have been arrested, although the whereabouts of Machar is unclear.

“So far we have lost seven soldiers who died while they were waiting for medical attention and a further 59 who were killed outside,” military hospital doctor Ajak Bullen said on Miraya FM radio.

Another medical establishment, Juba Teaching Hospital, had earlier reported 26 dead, a mixture of civilians and military. It was not clear whether there was any overlap between the figures.

Military spokesman Philip Aguer declined to comment on the casualty figures, telling AFP only: “The soldiers are controlling the situation.”

Communications in Juba continued to be sporadic, with most phone lines down and the main airport closed, diplomats and civil aviation officials said.

An AFP reporter said residents living in areas close to military bases were using any lull in the fighting to flee for safer areas, although many said they were too afraid to move.

“We are afraid of going outside,” said Juba resident Jane Kiden. “We had wanted to go out and buy food from the market, but how can you go with the shooting? I am staying at home with my children.”

There were also unconfirmed reports of troops conducting violent house-to-house searches.

“We have heard unconfirmed reports of house-to-house military checks of civilians including the use of brutality and violence, though this is unconfirmed,” Oxfam’s Drew said.

The UN statement appeared to back up the reports by emphasizing the need for “discipline, command and control in the security forces”.

Thousands flee S. Sudan capital as rival troops clash | i24news – See beyond.