The president of the United Nations Security Council says fighting in South Sudan has led to a "heavy toll" in deaths.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters Tuesday that the fighting in the world's newest country is "apparently largely along ethnic lines."

He estimates "scores of casualties" and says 15,000 to 20,000 people have taken refuge with the U.N. mission in the capital, Juba.

Araud says the council received only "patchy information" in a special briefing by the U.N. peacekeeping chief.

The South Sudan president has blamed the violence on a coup attempt by soldiers loyal to his former deputy.

Araud says the council is "extremely concerned."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned against "targeted violence against certain communities."

Casualty figures have been estimated in the hundreds