JUBA: South Sudan is on the brink of civil war, with more than 500 people reported killed in the capital Juba and fighting in the volatile eastern state of Jonglei.
Here is a timeline of the rapidly spiralling violence there this week.
SUNDAY, December 15:
-Heavy fighting breaks out overnight in multiple army bases in the capital Juba, hours after furious disagreements at a meeting of the ruling party.
MONDAY, December 16:
- President Salva Kiir says he has thwarted a coup attempt, blaming forces loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar, who was dismissed with the rest of the government in July.
Kiir comes from the majority Dinka people and Machar from the Nuer.
- Shooting continues across the city despite government assurances they are in control.
TUESDAY, December 17:
- Firing and explosions continue and the situation remains tense, with troops patrolling key areas.
- The government says it has arrested 10 key figures including former ministers in connection with the violence. Arrests orders are issued for others now on the run, including Machar.
WEDNESDAY, December 18:
- While fighting in Juba calms, clashes spread to the eastern state of Jonglei, where rebels said to support Machar capture the regional capital, Bor.
- Kiir says he wants to speak with Machar, who denies having tried to stage a coup.
- A day after the United States order some embassy staff to evacuate, sending aircraft to carry them, Britain and Norway follow suit.
- Clashes break out in the oil-producing state of Unity, with oil workers killed.
THURSDAY, December 19:
- Machar calls for Kiir to be overthrown and accuses him of seeking to “incite inter-ethnic fighting.” Machar says he will only discuss the conditions of Kiir’s departure.
- Two Indian UN peacekeepers are killed in an attack on their base in Akobo, in the state of Jonglei. Another is badly wounded.
- UN human rights chief Navi Pillay says civilians are being killed based on their ethnicity, warnings echoed also by Human Rights Watch.
- US President Barack Obama says that South Sudan stands at the “precipice” of civil war and deploys 45 US soldiers to ensure the safety of US citizens.
- Regional foreign ministers on an African Union-mandated mission arrive to try to start talks.
- FRIDAY, December 20:
- The UN sends four helicopters to evacuate personnel from the base in Akobo.
- Soldiers from Uganda arrive in Juba to help ensure order there, according the Uganda government’s press service.
- More than 34,000 people are listed as having sought refuge at UN bases in South Sudan, including 20,000 in Juba.