South Sudan: UN seeks to end Juba violence

South Sudanese watch Riek Machar on TV Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Machar spoke on television following renewed clashes in Juba

The UN Security Council has called on warring factions in South Sudan to immediately end the recent fighting and prevent the spread of violence.

In a unanimous statement, the council condemned the fighting "in the strongest terms" and expressed "particular shock and outrage" at attacks on UN sites.

It also called for additional peacekeepers to be sent to South Sudan.

More than 200 people are reported to have died in clashes since Friday.

The fighting broke out when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and first Vice-President Riek Machar began shooting at each other in the streets of the South Sudanese capital, Juba.

Relations between the two men have been fractious since independence in 2011. Despite a peace deal last year ending a civil war, each side accuses the other of bad faith.

The weekend's violence later escalated, with tanks, helicopter gunships and troops using rocket-propelled grenades involved.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There are fears of renewed instability, as South Sudan celebrates five years of independence

Those killed include a Chinese UN peacekeeper. Several other peacekeepers and a number of civilians are reported to have been injured in crossfire.

'Under control'

A UN spokeswoman in Juba, Shantal Persaud, said the latest fighting had caused hundreds of internally displaced people to take refuge in UN premises.

She said both South Sudanese leaders were responsible for implementing last year's peace agreement, which included a permanent ceasefire and the deployment of forces away from Juba.

Information Minister Michael Makuei told the BBC that the situation in the city was now "under full control" and civilians who had fled should return to their homes.

Mr Machar's military spokesman, Col William Gatjiath, accused officials loyal to the president of lying, and said there had been at least 10 hours of clashes on Sunday.

"The situation in South Sudan is uncontrollable because Salva Kiir and his followers are not ready to follow the peace agreement," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gunfire erupted shortly after Mr Machar (L) and Mr Kiir (R) met on Friday

In a statement on Sunday, the US state department said it strongly condemned the latest outbreak of fighting in Juba.

Spokesman John Kirby said Washington had ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel from the US embassy in Juba.

Mr Kiir and Mr Machar had met at the presidential palace on Friday and issued a call for calm.

Calm was apparently restored on Saturday but heavy gunfire broke out again on Sunday near a military barracks occupied by troops loyal to Mr Machar.

How did we get here?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption South Sudan's short history has been marked by violence and poverty

July 2011 - South Sudan becomes an independent country, after more than 20 years of guerrilla warfare, which claimed the lives of at least 1.5 million people and displaced more than four million.

December 2013 - Civil war breaks out after President Salva Kiir sacks the cabinet and accuses Vice-President Riek Machar of planning a coup. The war is fought broadly between the country's biggest ethnic groups - the Dinka, led by Mr Kiir, and the Nuer, under Mr Machar.

More than 2.2 million people are displaced by the fighting. Famine puts the lives of thousands at risk. Tens of thousands of people are reported killed, and Mr Machar flees the country.

Image caption There is no dominant culture in South Sudan - the Dinka and the Nuer are the largest of more than 60 ethnic groups, each with its own language and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam

August 2015 - President Kiir signs a peace deal with rebels after a threat of sanctions from the UN.

April 2016 - Mr Machar returns to South Sudan to take up his job as first vice president in a new unity government led by President Kiir.

The move marks "the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan", Mr Kiir says.