Uganda sends troops to help evacuate nationals from South Sudan

Uganda has sent troops to South Sudan to ensure the security of its citizens who are being evacuated after fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those supporting former rebel leader Riek Machar, the Ugandan army said Friday.

“We have deployed,” army spokesman Paddy Ankunda told dpa.

The clashes that broke out last week have killed hundreds of people. The Ugandan broadcaster NTV quoted the government as saying that the fatalities included 11 Ugandans.

Uganda has already evacuated hundreds of its citizens from South Sudan. More than 1,000 South Sudanese refugees have also crossed the border, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

An attempted ambush on a Ugandan military evacuation convoy was repelled, Ankunda said on Twitter, adding that three soldiers were slightly injured.

"The army has gone to South Sudan, because the situation there is not yet calm,” police spokeswoman Polly Namaye said. “We have set up security surveillance along the border to ensure that those crossing do not enter with arms,” she added.

Namaye said medical teams had also been sent to the border to attend to people with gunshot wounds.

South Sudanese refugees crossing into Uganda “are avoiding the main entry points for fear of attacks by gunmen,” said Irene Nakasiita, a spokeswoman for the Uganda Red Cross.

Fighting broke out last week between troops loyal to Kiir and those supporting his deputy Machar in South Sudan's capital Juba, displacing an estimated 42,000 people.

The fighting subsided after the two leaders declared a ceasefire this week.

The fresh outbreak of violence dealt a blow to hopes of peace after Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August 2015 and formed a national unity government in April.

A power struggle between the two escalated into an armed conflict in December 2013, killing tens of thousands and displacing more than 2 million people.

Uganda had thousands of troops fighting on Kiir’s side in South Sudan, but it withdrew them last year.

Last update: Fri, 15/07/2016 - 12:37

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