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Clashes flare southwest of Juba

Clashes flare southwest of Juba

South Sudan

Fighting flared in South Sudan southwest of Juba late on Saturday between forces loyal to the president and those backing the opposition.

Witnesses reported heavy gunfire around Yei, which lies on a road linking the capital Juba with neighboring Uganda. The government and opposition each blame each other.

Steven Lodu Onseimo, the Information Minister for Yei region where Saturday’s clashes took place, told Reuters two civilians and a soldier were killed but said the area was calm on Sunday.

Opposition spokesman James Gatdet told Reuters their “forces have managed to close Juba-Yei road. Our forces destroyed the government’s convoy that attacked our forces in the area” .

The Information Minister for Yei region described it as an “ambush” of a government convoy by the opposition.

The skirmishes come after clashes last month raised fears of a renewed civil war and just days after the U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of a 4,000-strong protection force to support the existing 12,000 member U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said after Friday’s vote for extra U.N. troops that the government would not accept the new force, describing it as a U.N. bid to take over South Sudan.

The United Nations has threatened an arms embargo if the government does not cooperate.

Regional states have backed sending extra troops to South Sudan in a bid to quell the conflict and prevent any further spillover.

More than two million South Sudanese have been displaced by more than two years of conflict, and many have fled to nearby states.

Reuters