US to evacuate some citizens from South Sudan after clashes

December 18, 2013 09:21


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JUBA - The United States said on Wednesday it would evacuate non-essential embassy staff and citizens from South Sudan after army factions clashed, killing up to 500 people and raising fears of broader civil conflict in the two-year-old nation.

Two days of street battles between the factions, split along ethnic lines, have left part of the capital in ruins after fighting broke out on Sunday night in what the government called a coup attempt.

The government said it arrested 10 people, including seven former ministers, over the "foiled coup" and that several others, including former Vice President Riek Machar, were being sought for questioning.

The United States, which has urged its citizens to leave South Sudan, said it would start evacuating its people from Juba airport on flights organized by the US State Department.

Britain said it was gathering the names of any citizens who wanted to leave and residents said other nations were expected to follow. Many aid workers live and work in Juba.

Diplomats said the United Nations had reports of between 400 and 500 people killed and up to 800 wounded.

President Salva Kiir blamed Machar's supporters for the clashes.

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