Machar ‘seizes’ SPLA tanks, Juba death toll at 272  

T72 Main battle tank

SPLA T72 Main battle tank

Opposition forces allied to deputy vice president Riek Machar claim to have captured three battle tanks from SPLA soldiers allied to President Salva Kiir this morning.

Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak says opposition forces captured three tanks and one recoy from President Kiir’s forces who attacked Jebel site.

“They are repulsed. Their helicopter gunships have now stopped bombing Jebel after one of them was almost brought down.”

He dismissed as propaganda reports that their soldiers are going to UNMISS camp.

“They [soldiers] are in full control of all of their areas around Jebel.”

Thousands of civilians are seen fleeing into Tongping UNMISS base, near Juba airport.

The conflict that started with gunfire exchange at J1, Presidential Palace, on Friday has so far cost the lives of over 150 soldiers from both sides.

272 people dead 

The death toll has climbed to 272 people, including 33 civilians, a source at the country’s ministry of health told Reuters on Sunday.

South Sudan’s Ministry of Health issued a statement confirming that 271 people died in Friday fighting saying the death toll would continue to rise.

According to the statement issued Saturday, 32 civilians were identified by family members, 44 of the bodies in the mortuary belong to government soldiers, five are policemen and 190 are opposition fighters.

34 government soldiers, 10 civilians, and five police were being treated for their injuries at Juba Teaching Hospital.

Other 15 civilians are being treated at Juba Military Hospital, while Peace Hospital, a private Chinese health facility in Juba, is treating two more.

Several uncounted victims are being treated at private hospitals.

South Sudan was founded with optimistic celebrations in the capital on July 9, 2011, after it gained independence from Sudan in a referendum that passed with close to 100 percent of the vote.

The country  descended into conflict in December 2013 after Kiir accused Machar, his former deputy who he had sacked earlier that year, of plotting a coup.

Civil war broke out when soldiers from Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group disarmed and targeted troops of Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

A peace agreement signed in August collapsed and fighting continues in many parts of the country, despite both leaders joining a unity government two months ago.

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