Brits Pull Citizens Out of South Sudan

Western concern continues to grow with 500 dead following alleged coup.

A United Nations soldier stands guard as civilians arrive at the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport on Dec. 17, 2013, to take refuge in South Sudan.
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Western nations continue to pull their citizens out of South Sudan amid continued intense violence caused by what the president considers a coup attempt.

[READ: South Sudan Loses Control of Province Capital]

The U.K. deployed a C-17 Globemaster III to the landlocked country in central Africa Thursday to evacuate British nationals, according to a report from its Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The U.S. Department of State said Wednesday that 150 Americans were flown out of the nation, on military aircraft and a charter flight.

As many as 500 people have died and 800 were wounded in and around the South Sudan capital of Juba, according to the latest numbers, amid clashes this week between groups of forces claiming allegiance to either President Salva Kiir or former Vice President Riek Machar, who was fired with other members of the presidential cabinet in July.

South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan in 2011.

Kiir has claimed the violence is in response to Machar's alleged coup against his rule. Machar has denied such accusations. Others have claimed ethnic tensions between the respective tribes of the two men are to blame.

The British foreign office released instructions to those in South Sudan for how they can request evacuation. As many as 500 have replied, according to The New York Times, after reports Wednesday that the local military had lost control of a town in the northern reaches of the country.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday the U.S. urges all citizens to leave South Sudan.

[WORLD REPORT: Will the Next Arab Spring Uprising Be in Sudan?]

"We're deeply troubled by the recent fighting in South Sudan," Harf said. U.S Ambassador Susan D. Page met with Kiir on Wednesday to discuss the rising death toll and humanitarian challenges. He said he would be willing to engage in dialogues with the opposition.

Reports early Thursday indicated that some of the violence had been contained, but the U.N. expressed continued concerns, CNN reports.

"It's a very, very fluid situation, so I don't think the country is out of the woods yet," said U.N. spokesman Joseph Contreras.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he is worried the violence may spread to neighboring countries. South Sudan borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic, which has experienced its own deadly violence in recent weeks.

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