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8,000 Ugandans still trapped in Juba as fighting spreads

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By Martin Ssebuyira & Agencies

Posted  Tuesday, December 24  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Fighting has also spread to Upper Nile state, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said, with their hospital in Nasir treating 24 people for gunshot wounds on Sunday.

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Entebbe-Thousands of Kenyans trapped in the fighting in South Sudan on Monday made desperate appeals to the government to be evacuated.

With the international airport in Juba closed and road transport too dangerous because of fighting between supporters of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, escape routes for civilians are limited.

Ugandans attached their names and contacts to the plea letter addressed to the government.
Both Foreign Affairs and ministry of Defence said they have not received the petitions although they urged Ugandans to keep in doors until the situation returns to normal.

Mr Fred Opolot, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, said about 8,000 Ugandans trapped in South Sudan have registered with the consulate in Juba.

Army Spokesman Paddy Ankunda, said the army had evacuated 2,400 Ugandans in the last seven days.

Fighting in Bor
South Sudan’s army engaged in a major offensive against rebel forces, President Salva Kiir told Parliament, as the country slid towards civil war despite international peace efforts.

Expectations of a major upsurge in fighting came as the United Nations warned that the situation in the world’s youngest nation was fast unravelling, with hundreds of thousands of civilians now at risk.

Fighting has gripped South Sudan for more than a week, after President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar, who was fired from the government in July, of attempting a coup.

Machar admits responsibility
Mr Machar admitted the claim in a BBC interview and accused Kiir of carrying out a vicious purge of his rivals. Vowing to oust Kiir, his forces have since seized the States of Jongole located just 200 kilometres north of Juba, as well as the town of Bentiu, capital of crucial oil-producing Unity state.

The army is “now ready to move to Bor,” President Salva Kiir told Parliament, adding that the counter-attack to wrest back the town after it was captured on Wednesday was delayed until US had airlifted citizens out.

The UN’s top humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, who visited the besieged town of Bor on Sunday, said the situation was rapidly deteriorating.

Fighting has also spread to Upper Nile state, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said, with their hospital in Nasir treating 24 people for gunshot wounds on Sunday.

Kiir repeated his offer to hold talks with Machar, adding that the regional bloc, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had offered to host talks.

Obama warns

The United States has deployed about 46 additional troops to violence-wracked South Sudan and will take further action if necessary after they were attacked, President Barack Obama said Sunday.
On Saturday, unidentified gunmen shot at three CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft when approaching the rebel-held city of Bor, wounding four US service members and and forcing the military aircraft to abort their mission.

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