South Sudan 'back to war', says VP Riek Machar's spokesman

South Sudan is "back to war", a spokesman for the vice-
president has told the BBC, as rival factions clash and
hundreds have been reported killed.
Forces loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar say government
troops attacked their positions in the capital, Juba.
But Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said the
reports of war were "dishonest".
The UN mission said hundreds had sought shelter in its
compounds, and called for leaders to restrain their troops.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he
called the "senseless violence". The UN Security Council is
to hold an emergency session later on Sunday to discuss
South Sudan.
'Situation under control'
Col William Gatjiath, Mr Machar's military spokesman, told
the BBC President Salva Kiir "isn't serious" about a peace
He said "hundreds" of Mr Machar's troops had died on
Sunday, and that troops loyal to Mr Machar were advancing
on Juba from different directions.
Mr Lueth said government troops responded when Mr
Machar's forces attacked a checkpoint, adding that those
forces had now been scattered. "The situation is normal and
it is under full control," he added.
The clashes follow days of fighting in the world's newest
country between supporters of Mr Kiir and Mr Machar.
At least 150 people were killed in fighting on Friday, before
calm was restored on Saturday. Local radio station Radio
Tamazuj reported on Sunday that the death toll from those
clashes may be as high as 271.
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Why does S Sudan matter so much to the US?
The violence has raised fears of renewed instability, with a
2015 peace deal failing to quell unrest.
Heavy gunfire was reported on Sunday near a military
barracks occupied by troops loyal to Mr Machar.
Friday's exchanges were apparently sparked by a shootout
between Mr Kiir's and Mr Machar's bodyguards. The two
men met at the presidential palace on Friday, and issued a
call for calm.
How did we get here?
July 2011 - South Sudan becomes an independent country,
after more than 20 years of guerrilla warfare, which claimed
the lives of at least 1.5 million people and displaced more
than four million.
December 2013 - Civil war breaks out after President Salva
Kiir sacks the cabinet and accuses Vice-President Riek
Machar of planning a coup. The war is fought broadly
between the country's biggest ethnic groups - the Dinka, led
by Mr Kiir, and the Nuer, under Mr Machar.
More than 2.2 million people are displaced by the fighting.
Famine puts the lives of thousands at risk. Tens of
thousands of people are reported killed, and Mr Machar
flees the country.
August 2015 - President Kiir signs a peace deal with rebels
after a threat of sanctions from the UN.
April 2016 - Mr Machar returns to South Sudan to take up
his job as first vice president in a new unity government led
by President Kiir.
The move marks "the end of the war and the return of peace
and stability to South Sudan", Mr Kiir says.
Huge distrust - Mary Harper, BBC World Service
Africa Editor
The situation in South Sudan has echoes of the days before
the civil war began, in December 2013, when skirmishes
between troops loyal to Mr Kiir and Mr Machar escalated
into a national bloodbath, killing tens of thousands and
displacing two million.
As artillery fire rings out in the capital Juba and a helicopter
gunship buzzes overhead, desperate work is under way to
try to calm the situation and to prevent the clashes from
But huge distrust remains between Mr Kiir and Mr Machar
and between their forces. The leaders may even be
struggling to control their own troops. A number of peace
deals have been signed - so far, none has led to lasting
One foreign worker in the Gudele district, on the outskirts of
the city, told the BBC he was waiting to be evacuated from
the area.
He said shooting restarted at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT)
on Sunday, and had been sporadic throughout the day.
In the latest response:
Ban Ki-moon said: "This senseless violence is
unacceptable and has the potential of reversing the
progress made so far in the peace process," adding that
Mr Kiir and Mr Machar order their troops to stand down
The UN mission in South Sudan, Unmiss, said in a
statement that hundreds of people had been forced to
flee and seek protection in the organisation's properties.
It added that there were reports troops were blocking
civilians from reaching shelter
Unmiss also said both its compounds in Juba had
suffered damage, Unmiss said
The US embassy in Juba said that the situation in the
capital had "significantly deteriorated ", and urged
people not to leave their homes
South Sudan marked its fifth anniversary of independence
from neighbouring Sudan on Saturday in lockdown.
The country is so short of money that no official anniversary
events were planned.

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