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UN calls for calm following deadly clashes in South Sudan capital

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UN calls for calm following deadly clashes in South Sudan capital

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Fears are growing of a return to civil war in South Sudan after renewed fighting between forces loyal to the country’s president and vice president.

More than 270 troops and civilians in the capital Juba have been reported killed forcing scores of residents to seek shelter in UN compounds.

The UN has 13,500-strong force in South Sudan. The mission in known as UNMISS.

Over night the UN Security Council met in emergency session. Concerns have been raised following the death of a UN peacekeeper and the fact that UN compounds have come under heavy weapons fire.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for both leaders to disengage their troops and for South Sudan’s neighbours to help in efforts to restore order.

The fighting first erupted on Thursday, when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir stopped and demanded they be allowed to search vehicles of Vice President Riek Machar loyalists.

Although both men have called for calm there is huge mistrust between them and it is unclear if the leaders can still maintain control over their own forces.

Machar and Kiir have spent months wrangling over details after signing a peace deal last year.

Fighting since 2013 has left swathes of the country of 11 million people struggling to find enough food to eat. It has also disrupted oil production, by far the government’s biggest source of revenues, leaving South Sudan mired in poverty.

Background

*South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011 after more than 20 years of fighting which killed more than 1.5 million people. *Civil war broke out in 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked the cabinet and accused Vice-President Riek Machar of planning a coup. *South Sudan is divided along ethnic lines – the biggest ones are the Dinka and the Nuer. Salva Kiir belongs to the Dinka and Riek Machar to the Nuer. *Peace deal is signed in 2015 by president under pressure from UN. Machar later takes up his job as vice president in newly formed government of unity.

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