South Sudan imposes curfew after "attempted coup"

South Sudan imposes curfew after "attempted coup"
# 16 December 2013 23:13 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir declared a curfew in the capital Juba on Monday after overnight clashes between rival factions of soldiers followed months of tension between Kiir and his sacked deputy, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Kiir blamed soldiers loyal to Riek Machar, who was dismissed as vice-president in July, for starting the fighting in the capital that extended into Monday morning before easing.

The two men are from rival ethnic groups which have clashed in the past. Machar has said he wants to run for president.

Flanked by ministers and wearing combat fatigues rather than civilian clothes, Kiir declared an overnight curfew in Juba effective from Monday. It will run each night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Kiir said the fighting, which he described as an "attempted coup", broke out after an unidentified person had fired shots in the air near a ruling party conference.

"This was followed later by an attack at the SPLA headquarters near Juba University by a group of soldiers allied to the former vice-president Dr Riek Machar and his group. These attacks continued until this morning," he said.

"However, I would like to inform you, at the outset, that your government is in full control of the security situation in Juba.".

Gunfire and blasts were heard through the night around Juba, intensifying on Monday morning. Fighting mostly subsided by midday, with witnesses reporting sporadic gunfire in some areas and a heavy military presence in the city.

Kenyan airlines Fly540 and Kenya Airways suspended flights indefinitely to Juba after the airport closed due to fighting.

The government has struggled to establish a functioning state since declaring independence from Sudan in 2011 to become Africa's newest nation.

Kiir had dismissed Machar after mounting public criticism at the government's failure to deliver better public services in the oil-producing nation, which is the size of France but barely has any tarmac roads.