UN Base Attacked in South Sudan

Meanwhile, US sends in 45 troops
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2013 12:26 PM CST
UN Base Attacked in South Sudan
UNMISS troops from India assist civilians at the UNMISS compound in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/UNMISS)

The UN sent four rescue helicopters to its base in Akobo today, after the outpost came under fire yesterday. At least two Indian peacekeepers at the South Sudanese base were killed before all communications were lost, the New York Times reports. The UN later announced that some refugees sheltering there were killed as well, according to Reuters. The base held about 30 refugees, along with 43 peacekeepers, six police advisers, and two civilians. It was just the latest sign of the chaos that is engulfing the world's newest nation. In other developments:

  • Barack Obama last night announced that he was sending 45 American troops into the country to "support the security of US personnel and our embassy."
  • An African Union delegation is in the country trying to negotiate an end to hostilities. Its leader, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, said they'd had "a very productive meeting" with President Salva Kiir today.
  • But Kiir's main enemy, former vice president and alleged coup architect Riek Machar, went on French radio to say he was ready only to "negotiate his departure from power," meaning Kiir, and that he'd oust him by force if necessary.
  • The UN will hold an emergency meeting today on the crisis. Right now it says about 34,000 people have taken refuge at its compounds, with 20,000 split between two compounds in the capital city of Juba, and 14,000 at its compound in Bor.
  • Hundreds of oil workers are among the refugees at UN compounds, fueling worries that the conflict will disrupt South Sudan's oil production, the Wall Street Journal reports. The crude is still being pumped, but China is among the many countries—including the US—seeking to evacuate its citizens, and China National Petroleum Corp is a big producer in the country.
  • The drama is all unfolding right next door to the Central African Republic, which is in the midst of its own crisis. Samantha Power is there now, in her first overseas trip as US ambassador to the UN, the AP reports. She urged the principal players in that conflict to give up power as soon as elections occurred, and said they'd agreed to do so.
  • If you're fuzzy on the exact details of the South Sudan crisis, Time has a helpful primer, explaining who's fighting and why.
(Read more South Sudan stories.)

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