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US troops in South Sudan to protect Americans

14 July 2016, 10:06

Nairobi - The US military in Africa said on Wednesday it had sent 40 additional soldiers to South Sudan's capital, Juba, to help secure American personnel and facilities in the war-torn city, while South Sudanese trying to flee the country by road reported attacks, killings and robberies by armed men.

Amid a tense ceasefire which has held since Monday night, the US troops deployed at the request of the State Department, said Africom spokesperson Jennifer Dyrcz.

In five days of fighting in the capital, President Salva Kiir's forces ousted those loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar, the former rebel leader in the country's recent civil war, from one of their bases.

The fighting left hundreds dead in the capital and aid workers said bodies remained in the streets.

Fled their homes

The US Embassy in Juba said it was organising flights to evacuate non-essential staff and for all US citizens wishing to leave South Sudan. Commercial flights to Juba remained cancelled, though charter flights were evacuating hundreds of aid workers and other foreign citizens.

Italy's foreign ministry said air force aircraft landed in Juba on Wednesday to evacuate 30 Italians who decided to leave. Germany's foreign ministry said its air force was evacuating German, European and other foreign citizens.

The UN said 36 000 South Sudanese civilians had fled their homes due to the fighting.

Some tried to reach neighbouring Uganda by road, but a reporter spoke to people who had been wounded in attacks by armed men as they tried to flee. Many cars had been shot at or burned. Government forces had erected roadblocks to demand money from those fleeing. Some people were sent back to Juba.

Relief workers should be given freedom of movement, said the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu.

- AP


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