500 reported killed in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — At least 500 people, most of them soldiers, have been killed in South Sudan since Sunday, a senior government official said as an ethnic rivalry threatened to tear apart the world's newest country.

Some of the victims "were shot in the bushes" around Juba, the capital, Information Minister Micheal Makuei Lueth told The Associated Press on today, citing a report from the minister of defense.

He said up to 700 others had been wounded.

The violence has also forced about 20,000 people to seek refuge at U.N. facilities in Juba since Sunday.

The clashes apparently are pitting soldiers from the majority Dinka tribe of President Salva Kiir against those from ousted Vice President Riek Machar's Nuer ethnic group, raising concerns the violence could degenerate into civil war.

Kiir told a press conference in Juba late today that he was willing to enter talks with Machar, his political rival who he fired earlier this year amid a power struggle within the ruling party.

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