United Nations launches independent probe into South Sudan rampage

South Sudan's former Vice President and rebel leader Riek Machar has sought refuge in a neighbouring country, opposition officials said in a statement on Thursday.

In accordance with the 2015 peace deal, which received worldwide backing, Machar returned to Juba, the capital, in April to resume his post as deputy to his rival, President Salva Kiir.

A spokesman for Machar on Thursday said the former vice president had escaped to a nearby country.

Tanks shelled and helicopters strafed Juba, the capital city, a few weeks ago in a fight between Mr Kiir's Dinka tribe and their rival Nuer, led by Riek Machar, the vice-president.

It is thought that Machar has recently fled the country as he was in danger and assisted by the United Nations, according to the Associated Press. Hundreds of civilians died in the fighting.

President Salva Kiir fired Machar as first vice president and replaced him with Taban Deng Gai, who was backed by a breakaway faction of Machar's SPLM-IO movement.

DRC authorities who requested his extraction Wednesday and "it was felt that the MONUSCO was the best party that could move him from one area to another one" near the border with South Sudan, Haq said.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir told lawmakers on Monday that his government is also investigating the attack at the compound.

A peace agreement signed in August 2015 has so far failed to stop the fighting in the world´s newest nation, independent only since 2011.

Kiir then sacked him from the post of vice president, dealing a new blow to hopes of peace.

"MONUSCO (the U.N.'s mission in DR Congo) became aware yesterday of the presence of Riek Machar in DRC and the DRC authorities requested MONUSCO to facilitate his extraction and transfer", Haq told reporters in NY.

South Sudan's military and opposition forces have made repeated promises to address allegations of child recruitment, but both sides have continued recruiting since July's outbreak of violence, according to Justin Forsyth, UNICEF's deputy executive director.

UNICEF estimates that 16,000 child soilders have been recruited since civil war began in 2013 and is now urging for their unconditional release. Its mission in Juba declined to comment on whether it had any part in evacuating Mr. Machar, but the mission has maintained its full impartiality throughout the conflict.

This UN base in South Sudan's capital, Juba, is home to 30,000 displaced people, living in fear of targeted killings by government forces.