Tens of thousands of people have fled heavy fighting in northwestern South Sudan between government troops and a newly formed rebel group that has left at least 272 people dead. The Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that nearly 70.000 people have fled their homes in the town of Wau since Friday. About 10,000 of them have taken refuge at a United Nations base in the area.
"We don't know how many people were killed, but dead bodies are still lying in the streets," said MSF deputy medical coordinator David Kahindi.
The government has blamed the violence on a new hardline rebel group that includes former government troops, fighters from the Ugandan-led rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army and a Sudanese militia known as the Janjaweed. The Spokesperson of the opposition Vice President Riek Machar James Gadget said that their base in Jabele was attacked by government forces at around 8am.
"We managed to repulse the attack. They are using tanks and planes but we shall defend ourselves," he said on phone from Juba.
But government sources say they wanted to retrieve the bodies of the government soldiers killed by the opposition in same base shared by the rival groups. Jabele is the Military headquarters of Machar troops. Machar stays in Gudele a few kilometres from Juba town, Mr Gadget told media that he was at Jabele by the time of the attack. Most of those killed since the heavy battle erupted on Thursday, were soldiers.
"Gunshots, heavily armed exchange UN House area once again; going on now since approx. 0825 (0525 GMT)," the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Twitter.
The UN House camp, close to where both former rebels and government soldier are camped at the foot of a mountain to the west of the city, is home to roughly 28,000 people previously uprooted by the war.
The violence comes a day after the country marked its fifth independence anniversary, and is a fresh blow to a peace deal that has failed to end the civil war that broke out in December 2013. City residents in the area of the camp began fleeing their homes as the UN reported the use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and "heavy ground assault weaponry".
A helicopter gunship was also reported above Juba. A steady stream of fearful civilians, clutching children and possessions, was seen heading for the refuge of another UN base close to the city's airport. Source: Reuters/MSF/UN Missions in South Sudan/UN Refugee