President Salva Kiir of South Sudan

Fighting erupted between supporters of South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar and leaders of his SPLA-IO party, which announced his ouster last weekend.

A spokesman for the pro-Machar Lt. Col. Paul Gabriel said troops backing General Simon Gatwech Dual had launched attacks in areas where supporters of the vice president were in Upper Nile State, prompting a backlash.

Vice President Riek Machar of South Sudan

The official said troops had killed two major generals and 27 soldiers, while losing three soldiers. No other source has confirmed the incident, while Gatwech’s side has refused to answer questions about the crisis.

Colonel Gabriel said Lieutenant General Dual and a similar officer had been taken to Sudan for asylum, while urging his supporters to return home.

The official also urged the Sudanese government not to get involved in the crisis and the need to prevent the general from returning home to avoid violence.

Following a meeting of SPLA leaders last weekend, they announced Machar’s removal for what they called his failure to lead the party effectively and protect the party’s interests.

Machar’s supporters described the coup attempt as a failed coup, while he himself accused the anti-peace elements of fomenting unrest.

Domestic violence in South Sudan has led to a civil war that has killed at least 400,000 people.