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13 000 seek refuge in South Sudan UN compounds

18 December 2013, 11:48

New York - Up to 13 000 people have fled to UN compounds in the South Sudan capital to escape clashes between army factions, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday after talks with the country's president.

Ban called on President Salva Kiir to make "an offer of dialogue" to his opponents to end deadly fighting that erupted Sunday, said UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky.

Kiir has accused Sudan People's Liberation Army troops loyal to his former vice president Riek Machar of staging a coup attempt in the world's youngest nation.

Ban held telephone talks with Kiir on the unrest in which dozens of soldiers are said to have died in Juba.

The UN Security Council was to hold emergency talks on South Sudan later on Tuesday.

The UN leader expressed "concern" about "reports that members of certain communities were being targeted", said Nesirky.

All civilians had to be protected "regardless of their ethnicities”.

Kiir and Machar are from rival ethnic groups.

Ban said "that up to 13 000 civilians have sought refuge at the UN compounds in Juba; a large number of them are women and children", the spokesperson added.

Ban called for an immediate halt to hostilities and for  Kiir's government "to extend an offer of dialogue to its opponents and to resolve their respective differences peacefully”.

"He said he was counting on the president to exercise real leadership at this critical moment, and to instill discipline in the ranks of the SPLA to stop this fighting among them," the spokesperson said.



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