LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday it had sent a plane to South Sudan to evacuate its nationals after five days of fighting between government forces and rebels which has killed up to 500 people.
Britain's Foreign Office said the aircraft was on its way to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to collect any UK nationals who wanted to leave later on Thursday.
A spokesman said about 150 Britons from an estimated 500 in Juba had so far expressed an interest in leaving and those who remained were advised to stay at home and avoid travel.
Britain has also withdrawn all non-essential embassy staff, while keeping its mission in Juba open. It advises against all travel to the South Sudanese capital.
Government forces were battling rebels to keep a foothold in a flashpoint town on Thursday, in a widening conflict that may split South Sudan along ethnic lines and has prompted an east African bid to mediate. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)