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UN to send peacekeepers home over reaction to South Sudan violence

South Sudan spiralled into civil war at the end of 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked deputy Riek Machar.

FILE: A South Sudanese man walks past UN peacekeepers on 17 September 2014 in Juba. Picture: AFP.

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said on Wednesday troops would be sent home from a UN mission in South Sudan due to their response to deadly violence at a compound.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that an inquiry found that confusion over command and control and rules of engagement marred the response by peacekeepers to fighting in February at a UN compound in Malakal where nearly 50,000 civilians were sheltering.

During the two-day incident at least 30 civilians were killed and 123 people wounded. Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres accused the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNMISS, on Tuesday of taking up to 16 hours to act.

"I will not name names at this point. But certainly there will be repatriation, in some cases a unit, in other cases of individual officers," Ladsous told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on the incident.

Ladsous said he had already spoken with the UN ambassadors of the relevant troop contributing countries.

A UN special investigation into the circumstances leading to the violence found that the immediate trigger for the fighting, which pitted Shilluk and Nuer people against Dinka and Darfuri people, was an attempt by two South Sudanese soldiers to smuggle ammunition into the UN compound.

The report, seen by Reuters, found that some armed elements in South Sudanese (SPLA) army uniforms took part in the destruction of Nuer and Shilluk accommodations in the compound.

South Sudan spiralled into civil war at the end of 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar. Thousands have been killed and millions driven from their homes during the conflict that began barely two years after the oil-rich state's independence from Sudan.

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