JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The capital of South Sudan was calmer Wednesday after two days of heavy fighting, but the government said 500 people had died in the clashes between two rival military factions and there were fears that the violence could spiral into civil war.
Fighting erupted in the capital, Juba, late Sunday between factions aligned with the Dinka tribe and those aligned with the Nuer tribe, causing ethnic tensions in the country to spill out into the open. Fighting on Monday and part of Tuesday reduced sections of the city to rubble.
The government's information minister, Micheal Makuei Lueth, said 500 people, mainly soldiers, were killed, some shot in the bush, the Associated Press reported. Some 700 people were reported injured.
The president of the U.N. Security Council, Gerard Araud of France, said in an interview with the
"It has potential for a civil war because the two main ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuers, could really go into a fully fledged civil war throughout the country, so for the moment what is important is to try to convince the president to enter into some form of dialogue with the opposition," he said.
He said some 20,000 refugees had taken shelter in the U.N. headquarters in Juba, leaving the U.N. overwhelmed in terms of providing food, medicine and water.
Araud said the death toll was large, but couldn't confirm that 500 people had died.
Kiir dismissed Machar as vice president and dissolved his Cabinet. Machar later accused Kiir of dictatorial tendencies and said he planned to run for president.
U.S. Secretary of State