December 3, 2019 / 2:54 PM / 2 days ago

U.N. sends troops to halt bout of ethnic violence in South Sudan

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers meet women and children on their path during a patrol near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

JUBA (Reuters) - The United Nations has sent a contingent of peacekeepers to an area of central South Sudan where about 80 people have been killed in a bout of fighting between two ethnic communities, the the U.N. and a local official said on Tuesday.

The violence beween the Gak and Manuer communities broke out on Nov. 27 and it has lasted for days, said Benjamin Laat, information minister for Western Lakes state.

“It was a revenge killing when one of the Manuer was killed by the guys from Gak. The government intervened,” Laat said.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement that Nepalese troops serving with the peacekeeping force had been sent to the area following reports from local authorities that as many as 79 people have been killed and 101 injured in a series of clashes in Western Lakes.

Oil-producing South Sudan, which became an independent country in 2011, plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked former rebel leader Riek Machar as vice president.

After a five-year conflict, Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal in September 2018 but they are still struggling to form a unity government.

The conflict killed an estimated 400,000 people, triggered a famine and created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Reporting by Denis Dumo, Writing by Duncan Miriri, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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