— An outbreak of violence in South Sudan has spread beyond the capital, following what the government has described as an attempted coup. Officials estimate fighting in recent days has killed at least 400 people and displaced thousands more.
South Sudanese officials say government soldiers clashed Wednesday at two military barracks near the town of Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.
Joe Contreras, a spokesman for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), told VOA civilians have been displaced by the violence.
“The situation is said to be quite tense, heavy fighting apparently broke out there in the wee hours of this morning and we’ve had hundreds of civilians streaming into the UNMISS compound on the southeastern edges of Bor,” he explained.
Contreras said clashes have also been reported in the capital of Eastern Equatoria state.
The fighting follows two days of violence between security forces in Juba.
Members of the South Sudan rebel delegation attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
Taban Deng Gai, left, head of the rebel delegation and South Sudan's leader of the government delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial, attend the opening ceremony of South Sudan's peace negotiations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
Unidentified members of the delegation from the South Sudan government and western observers meet at the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 4, 2014.
A displaced mother and her baby, one of the few to have a mosquito net, wake up at a refugee camp, Awerial, South Sudan, Jan. 2, 2014.
A young displaced girl carries a bucket of water back to her makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound. The compound has become home to thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
Displaced people gather inside a mosquito net tent as they flee from the fighting between the South Sudanese army and rebels in Bor town, in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 30, 2013.
A displaced woman hangs up laundry on the plastic sheeting wall of a latrine at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
Yared, 2, is held by his mother, Madhn, who fled from the town of Bor a few days ago. She receives medicine for her child at a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical tent, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
A young displaced boy rests on the wheel arch of a water truck while others fill containers from it, at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Africa, Dec. 31, 2013.
A family makes tea outside their makeshift shelter at a United Nations compound, Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 31, 2013.
A general view of a camp for displaced people set up in a United Nations compound in Bor, South Sudan, Dec. 25, 2013.
South Sudan army soldiers hold their weapons as they ride on a truck in Bor, Dec. 25, 2013.
At least 10 former government officials have been arrested for what President Salva Kiir has described as a coup plot organized by his political rival, former vice president Riek Machar.
An outspoken critic of the president, Machar has denied the allegations, and has so far eluded arrest.
Jok Madut Jok of the Sudd Institute, an independent research organization in South Sudan, says while Machar and his associates have publicly opposed the president, there are doubts about whether this was really an attempted coup.
“It was done so haphazardly and sloppy, too sloppy to have been a well-planned coup, in addition to the fact that the accused leaders said they were never interested in having a coup, they were interested in political transition through democratic processes,” Jok said.
A relative calm has come over the capital, though tensions remain high.
The United Nations says about 16,500 civilians were still taking refuge at two mission compounds in the capital as of Wednesday morning.
Flights have also resumed at Juba airport, which has been flooded with travelers trying to leave the country.