January 4, 2014 (JUBA) - Heavy fighting broke out on Saturday at the barracks of the South Sudanese army in Yei, a town on the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, causing panic among local residents.
- A South Sudan army soldier mans a machine gun, that has been mounted onto a truck, as it drives through a street in Malakal town, 497 km (308 miles) northeast of capital Juba, December 30, 2013 (REUTERS/James Akena)
It was not possible to ascertain the cause of the fighting. In Jonglei and Unity states parts of the army mutinied following reports that civilians from the Nuer tribe were being targeted during clashes in the capital, Juba, in mid-December.
Fighting has also been reported from the barracks in Juba where the fighting began on December 15 between members of the presidential guard.
The Juba incident, according to a military source, started when supporters of president Salva Kiir allegedly attacked senior military officers from the Nuer tribe prompting defections. This report could, however, not be independently verified.
The spokesperson of South Sudan’s president Ateny Wek Ateny, told Sudan Tribune that the latest fighting in Juba was between drunken soldiers. No casualty figures were known by Saturday evening.
The soldiers who defected in Juba last month were pushed back to Khor William, but launched a counter attack on Juba on Saturday, according to Major General Marial Cindong Yol from the South Sudanese army (SPLA).
Following the outbreak of fighting, President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar and others of attempting to stage a coup. This has, however, been denied by Machar who is now leading an armed rebellion against the government and now controls two of the country’s 10 states.
Representatives from both sides have sent delegations to Ethiopia for ceasefire talks, but no progress has been made as Machar has set out preconditions for these negotiations, including the release of all political detainees and that a mechanism for monitoring the ceasefire be established.