17 December 2013

South Sudan: Juba Crisis - Government Calls Soldiers to Report to Base

Rival troops were locked in fresh battles in South Sudan's capital on Tuesday in unrest that has killed hundreds and sent thousands of terrified ... ( Resource: Thousands Flee as Rival Troops Battle in South Sudan )

Juba — After heavy fighting throughout the morning in parts of Juba, a public announcement was made by loudspeaker calling on soldiers to return to base.

A car with a sound system passed through the streets calling on soldiers in simple Arabic to report to the army headquarters: "People stay at your houses. All soldiers, report to the headquarters."

It is unclear whether the summons is an effort to encourage troops to lay down their arms or rather to remobilize them toward the other conflict areas.

Citizens meanwhile have narrated to Radio Tamazuj how they survived this morning in Juba. Paulino Mawai, a Juba citizen, said he narrowly escaped execution: "At my house two relatives arrived yesterday. I have only one gun so I could not protect them. With my gun I escorted them through Mia Sabah to other relatives who are able to protect them."

"On our way we met five Nuer from the Tiger Battalion (members of the presidential guards). These soldiers started talking to us in Nuer. When we did not reply they cocked their guns," he said.

"I dived and tried to crawl away while they shot at me. After I kept silent they started walking towards me to finish me and I managed to wound two of them. While I fled they shot me in my thigh."

Mawai was brought by the police to the hospital and his family were not aware of his whereabouts.

A resident of Munuki this morning told Radio Tamazuj of being deeply worried about the latest developments in her area: "The situation in Munuki Block C is not good. The shooting is coming towards my area and Mia Sabah."

"Last night we were sleeping on the ground under the beds in order to stay low. One of my fellow students is now in the hospital to be treated for gunshots," she said.

Amarat clashes

Since sunrise new clashes are taking place in Juba town and did not subside until about 14:00. The early morning was relative quiet and few shots were heard. Around 05:00 in the morning new heavy explosions were heard and even tanks and artillery started to be engage in the surroundings of Bilpam, the military headquarters.

Also in Jebel and Gudele some fighting resumed. Police have launched operations in the Amarat neighborhood of central Juba to contain armed elements said to be loyal to the ex-vice president Riek Machar. Fighting in the Amarat area near the presidential palace since morning may be linked to the operation.

Small planes leaving

The airport is still closed although two small airplanes were seen taking off reportedly heading towards Kenya. It is not known who were the passengers.

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