Fighting breaks out in South Sudan capital

JUBA: Fighting broke out in a military barracks in war-torn South Sudan’s capital Juba on Wednesday, witnesses said, although the cause of the clashes was not immediately clear.

An AFP reporter said the sound of heavy gunfire was heard coming from Giyada barracks near Juba University from 9:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m. GMT) and the shooting ended two hours later.

According to independent Tamazuj radio, the fighting started after soldiers argued with a military pay committee. It said several people were dead, but there was no immediate confirmation of the number of casualties and the army could not be reached for comment.

The U.S. embassy in Juba issued a statement telling its nationals to stay indoors.

The conflict in South Sudan started in the capital Juba nearly three months ago amid tensions within the ruling party of President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar, but quickly spread across the country.

Since the initial week of fighting in Juba, the capital has been largely calm. Fighting between the national army and the rebels – made up of defectors and ethnic militia – has been centered around the towns of Bor, Malakal and Bentiu further north.

The unrest in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation which won independence from Khartoum in 2011, has left thousands dead and has displaced close to 900,000 people, including tens of thousands who have crammed into UN bases in fear of ethnic attacks.

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