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20 Ugandans feared dead in South Sudan fighting

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Some of the people that sought refugee at the UN compound in Juba. Fighting continues in key states in South Sudan.

Some of the people that sought refugee at the UN compound in Juba. Fighting continues in key states in South Sudan. AFP PHOTO. 

By Martin Ssebuyira

Posted  Wednesday, December 25  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

According to an eye witness narrative, a number of Ugandans have been caught in between the fighting as they search for food.

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Kampala

At least 20 Ugandans are feared to have died in the South Sudan town of Bor, which was captured by rebel forces loyal to the former vice-president, Dr Riek Machar.

It is further believed that an estimated 2,000 Ugandans are still stranded at the United Nations base waiting for evacuation.

Eye witness narrative to the Daily Monitor indicate that those killed had left the UN camp in search of food and water when they were caught in the fire exchange between government forces and the rebels.

“The fighting is tense here and the rebel forces who were formerly targeting and killing only Dinkas are now targeting people from other countries claiming that governments, including Uganda are offering support to President Kiir,” Mr Alex Byamukama, a Uganda group leader in Bor, said.

“Ever since US planes came to evacuate their citizens and were shot at on Sunday, the rebels controlling this town started targeting Ugandans saying our government was supporting government forces to bomb their camps,” Mr Hebert Nnyanja, a Ugandan stranded in the UNAMISS compound at Pakwao in Bor, told the Daily Monitor on phone.

Out of water and food
He said the compound has run out of water and food forcing people to sneak out to look for shops in Bor to get what to eat. “Before they could ask us if we were Kenyans or Ugandans and leave us, but now they have turned on us [Ugandans] as well.”

According to Ugandans trapped in Bor, soldiers are conducting indiscriminate killings with a number of bodies rotting on streets. Dr Machar early last week accused Uganda on a BBC interview of supporting president Kiir to bomb rebel positions.

Uganda has vehemently denied sending troops to help president Kiir against his former deputy Dr Machar, saying UPDF is in South Sudan to evacuate Ugandans. Foreign Affairs head of diplomacy Fred Opolot yesterday said the government wants to evacuate Ugandans from Bor but the situation is too fragile.

“We urge them to keep in doors because there is still fighting in Bor and we can’t forcefully evacuate people on foreign soils,” he said. He said there are still 8,000 registered Ugandans trapped in South Sudan and an estimated 20,000 who didn’t register with the Ugandan consulate in the country.

Ethnic violence has raised fears of a possible civil war in South Sudan. Sudan suffered a 22-year civil war that left more than one million people dead before the South signed a peace deal in 2005 to get independent of the North.

mssebuyira@ug.nationmedia.com