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Ordered restored; South Sudan violence leaves 500 dead

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

After weeks of violence, government forces are now in charge of the situation in South Sudan. Flights have since resumed at Juba International Airport. Fighting has left 500 people dead, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many officials warn that the world's newest nation that the situation still remains volatile.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The United Nations acting spokesman on South Sudan, Joseph Contreras told reporters that "It is a very, very fluid situation, so I don't think the country is out of the woods yet."

The South Sudanese government in the meantime said that its forces are in "absolute control of the situation" and that a coup attempt over the weekend was not based on ethnic divisions but rather on "the power ambitions" of the coup plotters.

In addition to the hundreds dead , 800 people have been wounded in the violence. Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth says that bodies are still being found in forests. Many of those who were wounded are dying in hospitals.

Deadly clashes started Sunday night. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir said his forces foiled a coup attempt.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people have taken shelter in the organization's compounds in the capital, Juba.

"There are many, many people who have run away, and there are also people who have been killed," one woman who fled the fighting said. "Now there is a woman who has a baby who was shot in the back and died."

Makuei says that the situation in Juba had returned to normal, with people returning to work, flights resuming and government offices opening. It is reported that rebels who have clashed with government forces had moved closer to the Nile River.

Makuei disputed the suggestion that ethnic tensions ratcheted up the violence. He reiterated that people from different states and tribes rose up against the government, which is now fighting back.

Ten people have been reportedly arrested in connection with the foiled coup. Five others are still at large, according to an official government Web site.

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to leaders, expressing his concern about the fighting, urging "all parties to cease hostilities immediately" and called on the government to "exercise restraint in the management of the situation and to guarantee the protection of all civilians regardless of their ethnicities."

There has been an influx of wounded to Juba's two main hospitals. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it is providing hospitals with support, such as wound-dressing materials, to cope with the heavy influx of patients. More than 300 people have been admitted to Juba Teaching Hospital and Juba Military Hospital over the past two days.

"We know there are more people who need care, but they are having difficulty reaching healthcare facilities because of the security situation and the lack of available transportation," Felicity Gapes, an ICRC delegate leading the medical response on the ground said in a statement.



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