Between 400 and 500 civilians in South Sudan have reportedly died in clashes between rival army factions, the UN reported on Tuesday, as fighting continued a day after an suspected failed military coup.
Another 800 were reportedly wounded, according to UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. Juba hospitals had not yet confirmed the toll.
Fighting broke out on Monday between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir, pictured below, and former vice president Riek Machar, after the president accused Macher of staging a failed coup.
South Sudanese officials said 10 key political figures had been arrested in response to the reported coup attempt. Machar remains on the run.
As the street fighting rages, thousands of civilians have fled to the UN compound in Juba seeking shelter. By Tuesday, the crowd was already pouring out of the compounds gates.
Hilde Johnson, the UN's special representative to South Sudan, told the BBC that more than 12,000 civilians had sought shelter in UN facilities.
Amid the unrest, Sudanese officials closed the airport and imposed a curfew. The country’s communication networks are largely shut down.
The United States mission in Juba announced that it was evacuating nonessential personnel, and urged all U.S. citizens to leave.
South Sudan is the world’s youngest country. It became independent from Sudan in 2011 in a referendum intended to end decades of fighting. South Sudan is oil-rich, but continues to suffer from underdevelopment and ethnic and political divides.
In July, Kiir dismissed his entire cabinet, including Machar. The move was reportedly seen as an attempt to ease hostilities with Sudan, who disagreed with many of the South Sudanese cabinet members.
The UN has called for an end to hostilities. But many are concerned over what tomorrow may bring as South Sudan's tensions continue to unfold.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at email@example.com.
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