December 17, 2013 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government said it has managed to contain military clashes in the capital, Juba, from spreading to its outskirts, despite the continuous sound of gun battles on Tuesday morning.
- South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, addresses a news conference at the presidential palace in the capital Juba, on 16 December 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Hakim George)
Fierce clashes erupted on Monday evening in Magiri, a military headquarters for the army’s second division, which currently covers the entire Eastern and parts of Central Equatoria states.
The usually busy streets in Juba remain largely deserted as residents fear a serious deterioration in the security situation despite assurances from the government that it is in full control.
A Sudan Tribune reporter said soldiers on foot and in armoured vehicles can be seen patrolling the city, while armed men dressed in civilian clothes believed to be security agents were guarding key institutions, including the ministry complex and presidential palace.
Security forces are reportedly stopping motorists and searching those deemed to be suspicious, while most shops have been closed since Monday.
A joint security operation started last evening after president Salva Kiir announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew from 6pm to 7am (local time).
Health officials said at least 26 people had been confirmed dead in the hospital, but there are fears the numbers could steadily rise.
The ministry of health, however, said it deployed 70 medical doctors to treat more than 113 people with gunshot wounds at Juba teaching hospital.
Aleu Ayeny Aleu, the country’s interior minister, maintains the situation is under control.
“The general police command, with other organs, calls on the citizens to remain calm as they resume their normal duties. Your government is in full control of the general situation. The disgruntled soldiers are being hunted and evicted from the pockets where they are suspected to be hiding”, he told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
However, citizens have expressed safety fears as gunshots continued to be heard across the city.
“When I came out today I saw bodies everywhere. I recognised two friends and one [of] three women lying dead. So I returned to the house and never went out again until the shooting subsided yesterday afternoon”, Dominic Alfred, a resident of Suksita, said on Tuesday.
Angelina Muite, another resident of Suksita, said two of her children were killed by a mortar fired into her house, destroying her home and setting a generator and television ablaze.
- A miltary tank patrols one of the main roads in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, on 16 December 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Hakim George)
“She wept until we decided to call a priest whom we took her to a nearby house to calm down. [The] priest biblically told her that her children have gone to the paradise”, a resident seated next to Muite said.
In a statement aired on the state-owned SSTV, the cabinet affairs minister Martin Lomuro said he had personally visited key areas across the city, including Juba teaching hospital, where he found 70 medical personnel, 10 of whom were trained specialists, including the under-secretary of the ministry of health, Makur Kuriom, busy attending to more than 113 people with gunshot wounds.
“I want to thank our ministry of health for this tremendous job well done. I went to Juba teaching hospital and I saw the work being done by our doctors”, Lomuro said.
NOT TRIBAL RELATED
Meanwhile, Lomuro dismissed reports that the violent outbreak was tribal related, as has been alleged by some sections of the public, saying it was an act by “individuals with political interest”.
“When I was moving today I saw [a] large influx of Ugandans and our citizens from [the] Nuer [tribe] to UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan). I want to say that what happened had nothing to do with tribe, but [was] an act of by individuals with political interest”, he said.
“Today, the chief-of-staff of our army is a Nuer; we also have cabinet ministers. This is their government”, he added.