A few hours to the celebration of the fifth independence anniversary of South Sudan, gunfire was heard at the Presidential State House in the capital Juba on Friday evening.
BREAKING: Heavy gunfire heard outside South Sudan president's compound, witnesses say.— The Associated Press (@AP) July 8, 2016
The shooting occured as President Salva Kiir convened a close-door meeting with his two deputies, First Vice President Riek Machar and Second Vice President James Wani Igga among other top ministers and military officials, Africanews correspondent Deng Machol reports.
Journalists were waiting for a briefing at the State House when the gunfire started.
“The shooting is continuing and the cause of fighting is unknown. Government officials have not yet responded to calls,” Deng Machol said.
The gunfire follows violence on Thursday night in Juba when five soldiers of the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) were killed during clashes with rival forces SPLA-IO, two armies led by the President and First Vice President respectively.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) also announced the indiscriminate shooting attack on a senior United Nations agency official that took place on Thursday evening in Juba.
In a statement released on Friday, UNMISS condemned in the strongest terms the resurgence of violence in the country.
“Such an act constitutes a grave violation of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the United Nations. UNMISS calls on the authorities to investigate this incident and bring the perpetrators to account,” the statement added.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader and First Vice President Riek Machar later called for calm after the heavy gunfire.
“What happened outside (the presidential palace) is something we can not explain,” President Kiir told the media gathered for the briefing, calling for calm.
“This is a very unfortunate incident and none of us knows what happened,” Machar also said.
They both called on the people to ignore the gunfire and go about with their normal duties.
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said on Friday that he is deeply alarmed by the fighting describing it as “yet another illustration of the parties’ lack of serious commitment to the peace process.”
He called on President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar to put an end to it and discipline the military leaders responsible for the fighting which “represents a new betrayal of the people of South Sudan.”