South Sudan clash leaves 5 government soldiers dead

Forces loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar open fire on troops under President Salva Kiir, threatening fragile peace

South Sudan clash leaves 5 government soldiers dead

World Bulletin / News Desk

At least five government soldiers were killed in the South Sudanese capital of Juba Thursday night when fighting erupted between troops under the president and opposition forces under the vice president.

The latest clash came after the opposition leadership accused the government’s military intelligence and national security of targeting their officials, including allegedly killing their senior officers.

South Sudanese Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk confirmed the clash and the death toll.

"The clashes happened yesterday night when the military vehicle carrying opposition soldiers opened fire on SPLA [the South Sudanese Army] soldiers in Gudele junction while it was moving, which resulted into killing of our five soldiers," Juuk said.

The car belonging to the assailants allegedly headed towards the headquarters of opposition forces loyal to the First Vice President Riek Machar -- who is also chairman of Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) -- and we are following the investigation to know exactly the motives behind the killings, he said.

Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak claimed on his official Facebook page that clashes took place when government forces had attacked a vehicle carrying their soldiers.

“Yes, there was fighting at 8 p.m. between 10 soldiers of our protection unit and forces loyal to President Salva Kiir. They attacked our vehicle carrying the soldiers. A number of people were killed on their side and one was wounded on our side,” Dak said.

He said that while clashes had now stopped, the situation remained tense and he voiced fears government forces might resume attacks on their units.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in a statement condemned the resurgence of violence ahead of South Sudan's fifth independence anniversary.

It also condemned the shooting attack on a senior United Nations official, which it said took place Thursday evening in Juba shortly after the clashes between the two rival armed groups.

The world's newest nation is trying to implement a transitional government of national unity seeking to end more than two years of civil war that erupted in December 2013.

More than 2.4 million people have been displaced by this conflict, while 4.6 million others, almost half of the country’s population continue to face severe food insecurity, according to the UN. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Temmuz 2016, 14:48