BRICS members China and South Africa have expressed grave concerns over the renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba, amid rising fears that the country is returning to civil war.
“These shooting incidences threaten to draw back the promising gains made through the compromised Peace Agreement and the recently formed Transitional Government of National Unity. President Zuma has called on the two leaders, President Salva Kirr and First Vice President Riek Machar, to provide the required leadership under these difficult circumstances,” the South African Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The South African government has said it is committed to “provide continued support to the Transitional Government to ensure sustainable peace, stability and development”.
More than 300 people have died in fresh clashes that began on Thursday.
On Monday, Associated Press reported heavy explosions and gunfire in South Sudan’s capital as clashes between government and opposition forces entered the fifth day.
China’s Ministry of Defence said it was “shocked” by the developments in the strife-torn country.
Things began to slide since Thursday when troops loyal to Kiir and soldiers backing former rebel leader Machar first clashed.
A UN peacekeeper from China was killed and six others were injured when the armored vehicle carrying them was hit by a shell during a mission in Juba, capital of South Sudan, according to China’s Ministry of National Defense.
The incident happened on Sunday evening as fighting between government and anti-government forces continued in Juba.
Three were severely injured, said the ministry’s information office, adding that the peacekeepers’ armored vehicle was hit by a shell during a mission to keep guard at a refugee camp.
“The Chinese military is deeply shocked and strongly condemns the attack, and it expresses deep condolences to the victims and their families,” said an official statement.
A South Sudanese Health Ministry source had earlier told Reuters that 272 people, including 33 civilians, were killed on Friday.
The UN Security Council has told rivals President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar to rein in their forces and end days of violence that is now raising fears of a slide back to a full-blown conflict after a two-year civil war.
The civil war erupted in December 2013 a few months after Kiir sacked Machar as his deputy.
They had signed a peace deal in August 2015 which is now shattered.
The UNSC, after an emergency meeting, told the two leaders to “do their utmost to control their respective forces, urgently end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence” and commit themselves to their peace deal.