South Sudan tense on anniversary amid deadly clashes

South Sudan’s capital, Juba, remained tense on Saturday, the fifth anniversary of its independence, after deadly clashes between rival factions.

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Gunfire erupted shortly after Mr Machar (L) and Mr Kiir met on Friday

Juba is in lockdown amid fresh fighting, apparently sparked by a shootout between the bodyguards of the leaders of the two factions. Some reports speak of dozens dead.

President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar have both called for calm.

A 2015 peace deal to end a 20-month civil war has failed to quell unrest.

‘We want peace – and ice cream’

The latest clashes came after Mr Kiir and Mr Machar met at the presidential palace on Friday.

A half-hour shootout among bodyguards escalated into heavy weapon and then artillery fire in several parts of the city.

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A doctor at a hospital told the Associated Press that soldiers had brought in scores of bodies, most of them military men, but this has not been independently verified.

An earlier deadly altercation on Thursday night left five soldiers dead at a checkpoint.

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

The rival armed factions both took up positions in April as part of the peace deal, which saw Mr Machar return to the country.

Tens of thousands died in the civil war and millions were forced from their homes.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, is so broke that the authorities say no official anniversary celebrations will be held.

But the streets of Juba were at least reported to be fairly quiet on Saturday.

Source: BBC News