5 March 2014

South Sudan: Heavy Fighting Erupts in Juba Military Barracks - Witnesses

Photo: Andrew Green/IRIN
Deserted road in Juba.

Juba — Heavy fighting erupted Wednesday morning in the South Sudanese capital as sounds of machine guns and heavy artillery sent Juba residents into panic as many fled work places.

The fighting started at about 9am at a military barrack, locally known as Geida, where violence began on 15 December 2013 between soldiers loyal to president Salva Kiir and those supporting his ex-vice president, Riek Machar

Thick smoke could be seen bellowing over the barracks located south-east of Juba as uncontrolled gunfire continued in the military facility for most of the early hours.

Military sources told Sudan Tribune that the clashes involved the presidential guards, known as the Tiger and Commando units at the barracks.

The clashes are the heaviest since mid-December violence, eyewitnesses say.

The cause of the fighting was not known, but sources say there was an attempt to arrest the commander of the Commando Unit, Brig. Gatwech Gai, which might have resulted in to resistance from his forces.

The fighting was still going on at 10am with sounds of Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and heavy artilleries shaking the city.

An eyewitness said he saw dozens of injured soldiers being rushed to Juba teaching hospital. Several others, unconfirmed reports say, have also been killed in the clashes

"The military are now patrolling the city and have set up road blocks on major highways," said the eye witness, citing roads leading to the airport and the military headquarters.

Currently, Juba resident are reportedly experiencing a temporary interference with most phone networks.

Sudan Tribune will bring more details about the incident... .

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