Tanks and helicopters have been used in an attack on the home of South Sudan’s vice president as renewed fighting in the country’s capital sparks fears of a return to the civil war.
Fighting in Juba gained momentum on Sunday as Riek Machar was attacked by troops loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
“Machar’s residence was attacked twice today including using tanks and helicopter gunships. Helicopters from Kiir’s side attacked the residence twice,” said the VP’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak.
According to Health Ministry, at least 272 people have lost their lives since clashes broke out between rivaling factions late on Thursday.
Thousands of people have been killed and more than two million forced from their homes because of clashes between the rival factions. Machar fled Juba at the start of the civil war in December 2013. In August 2015, however, a peace deal was signed between the rivals and Machar became the first vice president.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Kiir and Machar to take “decisive action” to bring the situation under control and urged them to calm their troops.
“I am deeply frustrated that despite commitments by South Sudan’s leaders, fighting has resumed,” said Ban. “This senseless violence is unacceptable and has the potential of reversing the progress made so far in the peace process.”
On Friday, the two leaders met at the country’s presidential palace and issued a call for calm in the country.
The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) also slammed the renewed fighting which it said had forced hundreds of civilians to flee the capital.
“The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is outraged at the resumption of violence in Juba [on Sunday] which is severely impacting on the civilian population … Both UNMISS compounds in Juba have sustained impacts from small arms and heavy weapons fire,” read an official statement.
An official at one of the UN camps said that the situation was currently “very bad…We have a lot of casualties this side, I think around 50 to 60 besides those of yesterday. We have civilian casualties. We have rocket-propelled grenades that have landed in the camp, which have wounded eight people,” he added.
“The European Union will join the international community and South Sudan’s neighbors to ensure that peace is restored rapidly,” read a statement released by the EU Commission.