Intense battles resumed on Monday morning in South Sudan’s capital with tanks and helicopter gunships deployed and artillery fire heard in parts of the city.
Witnesses reported “very, very heavy fighting,” with residents barricading themselves inside houses and aid workers holed up in bunkers while the US embassy warned of “serious fighting between government and opposition forces.”
“Monday morning began much as Sunday morning began in Juba,” Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from the capital, said.
“Fighting began in Jebel, south-west of the city; there’s also been fighting in Gudele, to the east of the city; and now there are mortar rounds being heard in the downtown area,” he added.
“What this means is that the ceasefire government officials had talked about – the unilateral government-led ceasefire – has not been carried out. The fighting does continue in at least two spots on Monday and that means that whatever peace talks there have been, they have not been successful.”
The latest bout of violence comes hours after a UN Security Council emergency meeting said South Sudan’s neighbours should also help end the fighting and be prepared to send additional troops to bolster the UN mission in the country (UNMISS).
“The members of the Security Council urged an immediate end to the fighting by all concerned and demanded that President Kiir and First Vice President Machar do their utmost to control their respective forces, urgently end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence,” the council said in a statement on Sunday.
Expressing “shock and outrage” at attacks on UN compounds, which killed and wounded Chinese and Rwandan peacekeepers, the council also demanded that civilian sites be protected and warned that “attacks against civilians and UN premises and personnel may constitute war crimes”.
Over 270 people have perished in fresh violence which started on Thursday. Authorities at South Sudanese Ministry of Health have warned that the death toll from Friday’s fighting in Juba could rise as over 270 lives have already been lost.
Authorities said more information would be availed with time, but regretted the loss of lives.
“Health professionals are doing their best to ensure lives are saved and minimize the suffering,” it noted, adding “The death toll is expected to rise as these are preliminary figure”.
With Files from AFP and Sudan Tribune, Aljazeera