JUBA - Several people were wounded in South Sudan Thursday after gunmen attacked civilians sheltering inside a UN peacekeeping base in the war-ravaged town of Bor, the UN said.
The top UN aid official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said he was "outraged" by what he said was an "attack of armed youth in Bor on civilians seeking protection".
Almost 5,000 civilians are sheltering inside the fortified base of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the town, one of the most bitterly contested regions in the four-month-long conflict in the world's newest nation.
The civilians fled into the base weeks ago amid brutal ethnic massacres.
Mayor Nhial Majok said at least 14 people were wounded, but added that the number could be more.
"Local youth were demonstrating ... there was shooting of guns," Majok told AFP, adding that at least 14 young men had been seen with gunshot wounds.
Majok said the demonstrators had clashed with peacekeepers inside the base, but it was not immediately clear who had fired the shots.
"There were clashes between the UNMISS force and local youth here ... some of the youth were armed," Majok said.
Information Minister Michael Makuei said that a "huge number" of gunmen, seeking revenge for the rebel capture of the oil-town of Bentiu two days ago, overwhelmed government forces in a bid to slaughter the terrified and trapped civilians.
"UN forces intervened, and they managed to bring the situation under control," Makuei said.
The conflict in South Sudan has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes since fighting broke out on December 15 in the capital Juba before spreading to other states in the oil-rich nation.
Bor town, capital of Jonglei state and some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of the capital Juba, has swapped hands several times during the conflict.
"We will not be deterred," Lanzer added. Clashes in Bor echo an attack by gunmen in December on a UN base in Akobo, also in Jonglei, killing at least 11 civilians sheltering there and two Indian UN peacekeepers.