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Violence continues to spread across South Sudan

 
 
 
 
 
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Clashes continue between government forces and troops loyal to fugitive former vice president, Riek Machar, as violence spreads across several regions of South Sudan.

The UN says the unrest has now spread from the capital Juba to other parts of the country.

The latest fighting took place near Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State. Up to 500 people have been killed since the violence broke out on Sunday.

“It is a very, very fluid situation, so I don’t think the country is out of the woods yet,” media outlets quoted Joseph Contreras, the UN acting spokesman on South Sudan, as saying.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recently spoken of being “deeply concerned” about South Sudan.

“There is a risk of this violence spreading to other states, and we have already seen some signs of this,” Ban said.

Tens of thousands of civilians have taken refuge in UN compounds to flee the bloodshed. It began following a failed coup attempt, which President Salva Kiir blames on former vice-president Machar. Machar has denied this and is now calling for the president’s ouster.

The conflict has been taking an ethnic dimension, with the two sides coming from rival clans.

Meanwhile, reactions are coming from across the world to the ongoing unrest in South Sudan.

Iran has called on the warring sides to exercise restraint and hold talks to find a peaceful solution. US President Barack Obama has warned that South Sudan stands at the “precipice” of a civil war.

Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman said tensions in the South would affect all neighboring countries, and expressed concern over the fate of oil flows.

Meanwhile, Uganda has deployed troops to the capital Juba at the request of the South Sudan government.

China is withdrawing its oil workers and Britain is evacuating nationals from the country.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.

The government in Juba is grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation, left devastated by decades of war.

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