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Heavy gunfire heard in South Sudan capital

AFP | Last Updated: Monday, December 16, 2013 - 13:59

Juba: Sporadic gunfire rang out early Monday in the South Sudan capital, Juba, in what appeared to be clashes between sections of the country`s military.

An eye witness saw heavily armed soldiers patrolling the streets of Juba early today amid sporadic gunfire emerging from Juba`s main army barracks.

It was not possible to get a comment from official government or military spokespeople because of the poor telephone network.

There has been political tension in the world`s youngest nation since South Sudan President Salva Kir sacked Riek Machar as his deputy in July.

Machar, who has expressed a willingness to contest the presidency in 2015, said after his sacking that if the country is to be united it cannot tolerate a "one man`s rule or it cannot tolerate dictatorship."

His ouster, part of a wider dismissal of the entire Cabinet by Kiir, had followed reports of a power struggle within the ruling party.

The local Sudan Tribune newspaper reported on its website that clashes erupted late yesterday between members of the presidential guard in fighting that seemed to pit soldiers from Kiira`s Dinka tribe against those from the Nuer tribe of Machar.

In a message to American citizens today, the US Embassy in Juba said it had received "reports from multiple reliable sources of ongoing security incidents and sporadic gunfire in multiple locations" across Juba.

"The US Embassy has not been able to confirm that gunfire and insecurity have fully ceased," the message said.

"The embassy recommends that all US citizens exercise extra caution at all times. The US Embassy will continue to closely monitor the security environment in South Sudan, with particular attention to Juba city and its immediate surroundings, and will advise US citizens further if the security situation changes."

Hilde Johnson, special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for South Sudan, said in a statement that the UN mission in Juba was "deeply concerned" over the fighting that broke out late yesterday and which continued today.

"As the Special Representative of the Secretary General I urge all parties in the fighting to cease hostilities immediately and exercise restraint," the statement sad.

"I have been in touch regularly with the key leaders, including at the highest levels to call for calm."

First Published: Monday, December 16, 2013 - 12:32
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