UNITED NATIONS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The United Nations estimated on Friday that at least 20 people from the ethnic Dinka group in South Sudan were killed during an attack by thousands of armed youths from a different ethnic group on a U.N. peacekeeping base in Jonglei state.
The ethnic Lou Nuer youths overran the U.N. base in Akobo on Thursday, killing two Indian peacekeepers and fleeing with arms, ammunition and other supplies, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan said in a statement.
The Dinka civilians killed had sought refuge at the base.
"I deplore this unjustified and unwarranted attack on the United Nations Mission base in Akobo, killing peacekeepers that were here to protect civilians and serve the people of South Sudan. It is a criminal act for which the responsible must be held accountable," said U.N. special envoy Hilde Johnson.
Fighting that began on Sunday in the capital Juba has swiftly spread, fueled by ethnic loyalties. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, a member of the Dinka ethnic group, has accused his former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer who was sacked in July, of attempting to seize power by force.
Deputy U.N. peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet briefed the U.N. Security Council on the situation in South Sudan earlier on Friday. According to diplomats at the closed door meeting, Mulet said that 35,000 civilians in six of the country's 10 states were sheltering at U.N. bases. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)