JUBA (8 Jul.)
Heavy gunfire including small arms, mortars, and rocket propelled grenade rounds, were heard near the UNMISS base in South Sudan’s capital Juba for 30 minutes from around 9:00 pm, while the rest of the city has calmed down following hours of shooting.
Violence erupted in many parts of the city throughout the late afternoon Friday. There are reports of casualties in multiple parts of the city but there are no clear figures yet.
The UN mission earlier reported there was shelling and gunfire at its base, including shooting outside the western gate of the base. Witnesses said this initial shooting subsided by around 6 pm.
The ‘protection of civilians’ site at the UN base already shelters some 28,000 civilians, but hundreds more have reportedly entered for safety. Hundreds who were already inside the PoC site fled to the “UN House” area, a more protected area where UN staff live.
Meanwhile, the rest of Juba has been calm since the initial outbreak of violence in the afternoon. Witnesses reported gunfire to Radio Tamazuj beginning around 5:00 and lasting for an hour or more. The shooting was heard from Ministries/Hai Amarat, Sherikat, Munuki, Malakia, Hai Cinema, Gudele, Juba Bridge/Gumbo, Tongpiny, and Jebel neighborhoods earlier in the day.
There were reports of artillery use as well as movement of tanks, and three military helicopters were hovering above the city. Earlier in the day a jet fighter also flew above the city.
Civilians in various parts of the city were seen fleeing and moving home, with some carrying their belongings.
Some of the fighting took place outside the presidential palace where there are said to be many casualties.
Pesident Salva Kiir, first vice president Riek Machar, and vice president James Wani Igga were inside the palace, known as J1, at the time of the shooting. All three men are safe.
The three men were meeting to discuss a skirmish in Juba which took place on Thursday night and left five soldiers dead.