Juba- The UN has warned of increasing violence in South Sudan as the
government was forced to publicly dismiss rumours of President Salva
Kiir's death to quell rising tensions.
The UN said it was being denied access to parts of the country
where fighting has erupted and condemned "in no uncertain terms these
acts of violence and attacks against non-combatant civilians".
United Nations Mission in South Sudan [UNMISS] is extremely concerned
over increased reports of violence and armed conflict in various parts
of the country in the last few weeks," a statement said on Wednesday,
noting fighting in northern Unity State and southern Equatorias.
UNMISS also said it had been denied access to an area where 21
civilians were reportedly killed in an ambush on a road between the
capital Juba and southern city of Yei over the weekend.
Wednesday, Information Minister Michael Makuei held a press conference
to deny rumours of Kiir's death that had circulated in recent days,
triggering fear and tension in Juba.
"This is a mere lie, there
is nothing as such. Salva Kiir has not even been sick," said Makuei,
slamming "wild rumours" he said aimed to divide the people of South
Later in the day Kiir, 65, was driven about town in the back of a pick-up to prove he was alive.
WATCH: Are South Sudan's leaders benefiting from conflict?
In recent days residents of Juba had reported a
higher-than-usual presence of soldiers on the streets, as the rumours
coincided with mounting concerns over a rise in violence.
are scared of the situation. You cannot know what is exactly happening,"
said Moses Modi, a resident of Juba who was staying in his house over
Another Juba resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, reported that some schools had sent pupils back home.
'On the edge of a precipice'
South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011, descended into
war just two-and-a-half years later when Kiir in December 2013 accused
his then-deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
attempts to reach a sustainable truce failed, and in a major setback to
peace efforts, fierce clashes erupted in Juba on July 8 this year
between Kiir's guards and troops loyal to Machar.
international community has expressed concern since the July clashes,
which pushed the number of refugees past the one million mark, according
OPINION: South Sudan - a country captured by armed factions
In a further blow to peace hopes, Machar last month urged "a popular armed resistance" against his rival's government.
Machar, who fled to Khartoum, Sudan in July, on Wednesday left for South Africa for medical tests.
influential group of South Sudanese politicians known as the "former
detainees" - after their arrest when war broke out in 2013 - added their
voices to the many rising concerns.
They said they were
"greatly disturbed by the recent increase of war and violent conflict
all over again; its ever deepening intensity and level of brutality; an
apparently all-pervasive and creeping sense of resentment and hate".
"The country is on the edge of a precipice," the group said.