War in South Sudan's Juba resumes
Fighting resumed again this morning, between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the Government (SPLA-IG) led by President Kiir and Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), in Juba's Hai Jebel, where First Vice President, Riek Machar Takes residence.
Multiple sources told Radio Tamazuj that, the government forces is the one leading the attack against the opposition forces' base in Jebel area, since early morning, with heavy gunfire and artillery reported from around 8:00 am until the early afternoon, with sporadic shooting after that.
Both sides reported casualties but did not have any figures.
Helicopter gunships were seen hovering over the city. There were also reports of artillery shells landing in the UN base near Jebel, with many casualties reported inside including UN staff and IDPs.
Tanks have been seen moving in the area. Soldiers in uniform were seen looting in Jebel market.
Heavy clashes were also reported in Gudele neighborhood where SPLA-IO has one of its miltary sites. A source in the neighborhood said around 1 pm they were hiding under beds due to intensified fighting around Lou Clinic with heavy artillery.
Heavy gunfire was also heard in the Gudele area in the mid-afternoon.
Exchanges of more heavy gunfire were also heard close to Giyida, a military barracks located south of the presidential palace, near the University of Juba. It was also not clear who were firing and the cause of their actions could be immediately established, despite attempts seeking comments from military officers in the area.
Three separate military officers reached to comment on the development said they were yet to know the cause of the shooting near the military hospital.
The US embassy said the situation in Juba has "significantly deteriorated."
"There is serious ongoing fighting between government and opposition forces, including near the airport, UNMISS locations, Jebel and elsewhere throughout Juba."
SPLA spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang said the situation is not clear.
“I cannot tell you exactly in details who attacked who at which place but this morning we heard gun shooting and until now let’s wait," Lul told Radio Tamazuj on Sunday.
SPLA-IO official Manawa Peter Gatkuoth claimed a government helicopter gunship this morning bombed Machar's residential area, destroying some buildings.
Gen James Koang, a senior SPLA-IO commander, said that his forces were attacked around 8 in the morning. He also said that the government army had bombed Riek Machar's residence, but Machar is still alive.
Another top Machar official, Ramadan Hassan, who fled to Nairobi this morning, claimed government commander Charles Lam, who has fought around the airport and Miya Saba has defected to SPLA-IO.
However, SPLA spokesperson Lul Ruai said he has no idea about Charles Lam's alleged defection.
Ramadan said the government forces bombed their locations at Jebel using helicopters. He said the events show there is no peace and war has continued in South Sudan.
Civilians have been seen fleeing to both the UN base in Jebel and the site by Tomping. One resident living near Jebel market fled to the UN base and appealed to the South Sudanese government to allow Ugandans to leave.
"I am here in the UN base near checkpoint but checkpoint is burnt down. I see smoke going up here around checkpoint," she said.
Another resident who was staying in Khor William area said he fled to Malakia residential area.
Meanwhile, a resident of Nyakuron near the National Security Services headquarters said at around 9:00 am the NSS personnel asked residents in the area to leave.
She said mostly women and children had left as heavy gunfire engulfed the area.
The Canadian embassy warned its citizens to consider leaving the country. International NGOs are also considering evacuating non-essential staff.
Kenya Airways canceled its scheduled flights to Juba.
The fighting this morning comes after a statement made by SPLA chief of staff Gen. Paul Malong last night, broadcasted in South Sudan Radio, claiming that there is an armed group plans to target civilians in Juba, asking the citizen to stay home.
The statement was read by Brig. Lul Ruai, spokesperson of SPLA.