World Africa 09 Jul 2016 Over 150 killed in S ...

Over 150 killed in South Sudan fighting

AFP
Published Jul 9, 2016, 9:12 pm IST
Updated Jul 9, 2016, 9:12 pm IST
The violence came on the eve of the country’s fifth anniversary of independence.
First Vice President Riek Machar (L) delivers a speech to journalists next to South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) and Vice President James Wani Igga (R) prior to the shooting outside the presidential palace in Juba on July 8, 2016. (Photo: AFP)
 First Vice President Riek Machar (L) delivers a speech to journalists next to South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) and Vice President James Wani Igga (R) prior to the shooting outside the presidential palace in Juba on July 8, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

Juba: More than 150 soldiers died in fighting between South Sudan’s army and former rebels in the capital Juba on Friday evening, a spokesman for the former rebels said.

“The number of casualties is over 150 killed,” said Roman Nyarji, a spokesman for rebel leader turned Vice President Riek Machar, adding the combined death toll may rise further.

 

“We are expecting a bigger number of casualties because the two units of the presidential guard were all engaged yesterday,” he said referring to bodyguard units of Machar and his rival President Salva Kiir.

The violence came on the eve of the country’s fifth anniversary of independence and represents another blow to a shaky peace deal that has so far failed to end a civil war that began in December 2013.

The shooting began when Kiir and Machar met at the presidential palace and initially involved their bodyguards.

The shootout, lasting about half an hour, quickly escalated from small-arms fire to heavier weapons and spread with machine-gun and artillery heard in several parts of Juba before subsiding after nightfall.

 

Kiir and Machar described Friday’s violence as “unfortunate”.

By Saturday morning a tense calm had fallen over the city with a heavy security presence but few civilians on the streets.

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