Juba town.jpg
Photograph: Photo by antheap, used under CC BY-ND

South Sudan’s capital Juba was calm Tuesday after President Salva Kiir declared a unilateral ceasefire after fighting between the army and troops loyal to former rebel leader Riek Machar killed hundreds.

Machar, who was sworn in as Kiir's deputy in April, told local radio station Eye Radio he had also ordered his forces to observe a ceasefire. A Machar spokesman said he did not know where the vice president was and was unable to comment.

“I haven’t heard any reports of new fighting,” said Jeremiah Young, an aid worker with World Vision.

People were beginning to venture outside, though “we are not even close to coming back to normality,” Young said by telephone.

“It is very quiet,” said Gregor Fischer, a German photographer.

Other witnesses reported shops opening.

In Jebel neighbourhood, where the army reportedly attacked Machar's positions, most of the shops have been burned or looted, said Mawien Deng Atak, an army soldier patrolling there.

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the army was respecting the ceasefire, adding that civilians who had fled the fighting were returning home.

The presidency had on Sunday put the death toll at 270 since Friday, but the figure was now believed to be higher.

The fatalities include two UN peacekeepers, who the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said were Chinese, and eight people killed in or near UN camps for displaced people.

Thousands of people fled the fighting to churches, schools, aid agency compounds, suburbs or towards neighbouring Uganda. Young said that an estimated 30,000 of the displaced people had remained in Juba.

The fighting was also reported to have spread to other towns.

Theresa Jumbili, a resident of Wau in the north-west, said she had fled gunfire to a cathedral. "There were gunshots in the early morning, but it has stopped now," she said.

Clashes erupted between army and the rebels on Thursday, followed by fighting on Friday near the presidential palace.

The fresh outbreak of violence dealt a blow to hopes of peace after Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August 2015 and formed a national unity government in April.

A power struggle between the two escalated into an armed conflict in December 2013, killing tens of thousands and displacing more than 2 million people.

Latest news

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.