December 31, 2012 (JUBA) – Residents of the South Sudan’s capital, Juba, entered the first minutes of the New Year 2013 with panic and uncertainty when massive shootings of live bullets suddenly sprayed the skies, in defiance of a police announcement outlawing the practice and warning of legal consequences for law breakers.
- Unlike other capitals such as London, pictured, South Sudan’s capital Juba has no fireworks display to celebrate New Year’s Day, leaving the heavily armed population to fire live bullets in the air. (Photo: BBC)
Many people were reported injured on Tuesday as a result of the midnight shootings in the city.
The President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit, while attending the New Year’s Day church service at Kator Catholic Church on Tuesday condemned the unlawful shootings during the night.
The police on Monday announced outlawing the shooting of live bullets into the air to mark the New Year at midnight as such practices can cause injury and panic among the population.
The region, which got its independence about 18 months ago, has no colourful fireworks to light during its major celebrations and in many instances the armed members of the population instead resort to firing live bullets into the air to express their happiness.
The deputy Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Gordon Micah Makur, however announced in the evening of the eve of the New Year that anybody firing bullets to mark the celebrations will face the law, urging citizens to calmly mark the 2013 New Year.
Despite the announcement, Juba residents were woken up at 12am midnight when the massive shootings abruptly started in the center of the city and quickly spread like wildfire throughout the whole city and its suburbs for about half an hour.
Hundreds of thousands rounds of live bullets lighted the skies when they were sprayed into the air by the heavily armed population of the capital, causing some to panic and go for cover while others who seemingly knew what was happening were singing and ululating.
One resident who lives in the center of the city told Sudan Tribune that it looked as if every household in the capital has a gun because he could hear shootings from every neighbourhood and in all directions.
In a city where rule of law has not yet taken root, it is not clear how the police will investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the chaotic situation, which was a clear violation of what had been banned only hours earlier.
Random shootings continued until 6am in the morning and it is not yet clear whether there were casualties or not as a result of the chaotic scenes midnight, which would have provided cover for armed criminals.
Meanwhile thousands of police personnel have been deployed in the streets throughout Juba city to patrol at night and prevent crimes from happening even though they could not stop the overwhelming massive shootings.
Juba city is divided into five zones with each zone under the command of a senior police officer, who closely directs the patrolling forces and monitors the situation on the ground.
Authorities have reported a significant drop in the number of crimes since the ‘Operations Restore Confidence’ was launched in Juba by the police two weeks ago.