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UN puts death toll at 500, hundreds more wounded

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Civilians resting inside the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba

Civilians resting inside the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba airport on Tuesday. Photo by AFP 

By Amos Machel

Posted  Thursday, December 19  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

The fighting has spread out of Juba, and much as calm has been restored in the Capital city, the UN is still hosting thousands of displaced people.

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Juba- Fresh clashes broke out in the South Sudan capital Juba yesterday, and at least 66 soldiers have been killed as forces loyal to Riek Marchar took control of key military installations in Jonglei state.

The Wednesday morning clashes also saw hundreds of soldiers loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s government flee or surrender to opposition forces.

An estimated 500 people were yesterday reported killed and 10 former ministers are being held for the failed Sunday night coup attempt. Mr Kiir blames the coup on his former deputy Riek Machar whose where-abouts were unknown by yesterday.

Reports indicate that forces loyal to Marchar took control of key military installations in Jonglei State’s Bor County when it came under heavy attack on Wednesday morning, forcing hundreds of soldiers loyal to South Sudanese president Salva Kiir’s government to flee.

The attack, which occurred between 1am and 3.30am (local time) in the Pan-pandiar army (SPLA) headquarters and Malual-chaat military camps around Bor, was reportedly launched by mutinying forces led by Gen Peter Gadet Yaak.

Though the UN estimates that 500 civilians have been killed, the South Sudan Government yesterday put the figure at about 450.
South Sudan military spokesman Col Philip Aguer said that hundreds more were wounded in the clashes.

But soldiers loyal to Riek seized three strategic military bases in Jonglei State on Wednesday, officials and eyewitnesses have said.

Peter Gatdet, the head of the military division in the country’s vast and populous state, switched his loyalty to Riek Machar on Wednesday, seizing control of Panpandiar and Malualchaat military bases in Bor.

A state government minister said Gatdet had taken control of Pakwaw, about 5km away from the Bor town center, the capital of Jonglei State.

Thousands of civilians have been displaced to the north of the state capital, as Gatdet reportedly settled some of his soldiers in Kolnyang Payam in the east of the state capital.

South Sudan Red Cross Society (SSRS) has confirmed 19 people killed in the overnight gunfire.

“We have seen bodies of 19, but we cannot access areas controlled by Peter Gatdet,” said David Gai Deer, the SSRC director in Jonglei.
“The humanitarian situation is really bad because most of the displaced people have no shelter, food, and access to drinking water,” he said.

Civilians caught up in the attack described the harrowing scenes of the attack.

“They are shooting now, let me run,” one victim said on phone before he hang up. Sounds of gunfire could be heard in the background.

Gatdet has been a rebel fighter. He led a Khartoum-backed militia group during the liberation war. His group was integrated into the South Sudan army in 2006, after defecting again from Khartoum.

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