Juba — At least 123 have been killed in violence in Juba in the last two days with hundreds more wounded and thousands on the run, Radio Tamazuj reports. Casualty figures cited by authorities on Tuesday are conflicting but a tabulation of independent reports suggests the toll is far higher than official numbers.
Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth today put the number of killed soldiers in Juba at 73. Reports of casualties in fighting elsewhere in the country have not yet been confirmed. The figure may be between three and seven, but those casualties are not included in the toll.
Civilian casualties include a group of 36 civilians killed in the neighborhood of Suq Sitta when the army used mortars and artillery to assault hostile elements of the Presidential Guard.
Radio Tamazuj learnt that the shells came down on residences near the former SPLA JIU headquarters leaving many dead inside their compounds and on the streets. Their bodies were counted individually and taken by their families.
Monday morning another three (3) civilian casualties were reported laying at the fire brigade. People called for help and transportation.
On Tuesday morning a Radio Tamazuj reporter witnessed two (2) bodies of civilians being brought to the Juba Teaching Hospital.
Security personnel have prevented journalists on the scene from talking to the health workers, taking pictures of the injured or visiting the morgue.
One person working at the hospital was reportedly arrested for reporting some casualties to international organizations.
Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday recorded also the account of a woman who described that the bodies of nine (9) men were discovered in the morning in a ditch near the Catholic Seminary in Gudele neighborhood.
"They brought nine dead bodies to our area, by the fence of the Seminary near to our house," she said.
The local resident said that she believed the men were killed in the night possibly in the Hai Sheilak neighborhood from which heavy gunfire was heard. "They dumped these nine bodies there until this morning people have been going to see them. We went there to witness this ourselves."
'No civilian casualties at all'
The official spokesman of President Salva Kiir confirmed the army death toll to be at least 40 but denied that there were any civilian casualties.
"No civilian was killed. That is propaganda. No one except soldiers were killed," he told Radio Tamazuj, asserting that all the dead bodies in the morgue of the Juba Teaching Hospital were soldiers.
Ateny also denied rumors that the government planned to bury the dead in one mass grave: "The families of the soldiers will come to identify them and to collect them."
The International Red Cross has not yet made an estimate of the dead. It put the number of wounded conservatively at 300 people, saying they could not make a count because many people were cut off from services.
"We know there are more people who need care, but they are having difficulty reaching healthcare facilities because of the security situation and the lack of available transportation," said Felicity Gapes, an ICRC delegate who is leading the medical response on the ground.
ICRC provided medical supplies to treat up to 500 people at two hospitals, the Military Hospital and the Juba Teaching Hospital.
Shortages of medicines and power cuts had been reported throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning when fighting and a curfew cut off the hospitals from medical personnel and supplies.
"Staff in both hospitals have been working around the clock, but they are struggling because of the sheer volume of patients and the severity of the injuries," stated Gapes.
13,000 on the run
Displacement within the city is reported to be at least 13,000, according to the United Nations, which says this number of people have fled to various UN compounds.
Pregnant mothers forced to flee the conflict gave birth to 11 babies. The mothers had to care for their newborn babies on mattresses spread out on the floor.
Figures for internal displacement that occurred elsewhere in the city are not known. Although many people stayed indoors during the fighting, in other areas entire neighborhoods were displaced.