The battle for Malakal, the main town in Upper Nile state, is turning into a bitter one in a old conflict between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

UN mission in South Sudan had reported ‘heavy fighting’ which started near UN compound in the town that now houses 20,000 people fleeing the conflict, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

He said the two sides were "apparently using heavy machine guns and tanks."

"Stray bullets are reported to have fallen inside UN base wounding internally displaced people that sought shelter there," and dozens of people were being treated in the camp hospital, he said.

The number of displaced who have fled to the Malakal camp has doubled in a few days, Nesirky said, adding that there are now 65,000 people in camps across South Sudan.

There are 1,000 UN peacekeepers and 110 police protecting civilians at the base, he said.

Nesirky said UN mission was ‘seeking to verify reports of casualties’ when a ferry carrying civilians capsized near Malakal on Sunday. The South Sudan government reported up to 300 dead.

Up to 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict which erupted amid mounting political tensions between Kiir and Machar, according to aid workers.


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