Gunfire, Explosions In South Sudan After Failed Coup Attempt

Gunfire and explosions were heard overnight in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, where President Salva Kiir had declared a night time curfew in response to an attack on the army headquarters.

The renewed shooting followed what witnesses said was heavy gunfire that began late Sunday and had subsided by Monday afternoon.

The city’s airport has been closed and the state TV channel SSTV went off air for several hours.

Shortly after it came back on air, SSTV broadcast an address from Kiir, wearing military uniform rather than his usual civilian clothing and flanked by government officials.

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He said the violence “was an attempted coup”, but that the government was now in full control and the attackers were being chased down.

The President said in the broadcast that the fighting began when unidentified uniformed personnel opened fire at a meeting of members of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, SPLM, and was followed by an attack on army headquarters.

He said the attack on the army headquarters was carried out “by a group of soldiers allied to the former vice-president Dr Riek Machar and his group”.

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Kiir, however, reiterated: “I will not allow or tolerate such incidents once again in our new nation. I strongly condemn these criminal actions in the strongest terms possible,” he said.

Some arrests have been made and the government vowed to prosecute all those responsible for the disturbance.

The American Embassy in Juba remained closed Tuesday and most cellular telephone services in the city are not working.

The U.S. State Department described the situation as very fluid and called on all parties to resolve their differences peacefully.

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Spokeswoman Marie Harf said that given the history of conflict in the region, the United States is concerned that the violence could spread.

U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon is also deeply concerned by the fighting , saying the government must guarantee the security of all civilians regardless of which community they come from.

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