U.N. says peacekeeping base in South Sudan attacked

The U.N. body received ground reports that some people have been killed, Deputy U.N. Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said

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A United Nations peacekeeping base in South Sudan’s Jonglei state was attacked on Thursday and the body has received reports that some people have been killed, Deputy U.N. Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said.

“Our base in Akobo, Jonglei state, was attacked and we have reports that lives are lost. We don’t have the details of that yet,” Eliasson told reporters.

South Sudanese government troops battled to regain control of a flashpoint town and sent forces to quell fighting in a vital oil-producing area on Thursday, the fifth day of a conflict that has deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation.

The conflict, which has so far killed as many as 500 people according to local reports received by the United Nations, has alarmed South Sudan’s neighbors. African mediators held talks with President Salva Kiir on Thursday in and effort to broker peace.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq also spoke about the attack.

“The situation in Jonglei has deteriorated,” he said. “In Akobo earlier today, where civilians have gathered, including 32 as of last night, (ethnic) Lou Nuer youth have reportedly forced an entry into the UNMISS Temporary Operating Base to reach to those civilians.”

“The U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will try to extract unarmed U.N. personnel from Akobo while reinforcing the base in Akobo with additional 60 troops from Malakal tomorrow,” Haq added.

At the time of the attack, 43 Indian peacekeepers, six U.N. police advisers and two civilian U.N. personnel were present at the base, UNMISS said in a statement.

“UNMISS is doing everything possible to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the assault on its base in Akobo and secure the safety of its personnel who remain there,” UNMISS said. “The mission will dispatch its aircraft early on Friday morning to evacuate U.N. personnel.”

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