Amid the ongoing fighting in South Sudan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is reaching out to key leaders in the region seeking a political end to the crisis, while the Security Council has urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities and exercise restraint to prevent the further spread of violence.
The UN boss Ban told reporters in New York that he has spoken about the dire South Sudan situation with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, “because of his role as regional leader.”
“This is a political crisis, and urgently needs to be dealt with through political dialogue. There is a risk of this violence spreading to other states, and we have already seen some signs of this,” said the Secretary-General.
Mr Ban confirmed that some 20,000 people had taken refuge in the UN mission in Juba.
Violence has erupted in the flash-point town of Bor, capital of eastern Jonglei state, and in Torit, capital of Eastern Equatoria.
President Salva Kiir has accused ex-vice-president Riek Machar of staging the coup – a claim he denies.
The UN called for political dialogue to end a crisis that has left hundreds dead and sparked fears of a civil war.
On Wednesday, Mr Kiir said he was willing to enter into talks with Mr Machar but that he did not know what the result would be.
South Sudan Information Minister Micheal Makuei Lueth confirmed to the Associated Press that at least 500 people, mostly soldiers, had been killed “in the bushes” around Juba.
He said up to 700 more had been wounded.