Marines guide US citizens down the flight line during a
recent evacuation of personnel from the US Embassy in Juba,
South Sudan. REUTERS/US Marines/Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher
Gunfire rang out in South Sudan's capital, Juba, for
about an hour as peace talks between rebels and the government
faced further delay in neighbouring Ethiopia.
A Reuters reporter heard gunfire coming from the direction of
the military headquarters of the SPLA government forces,
towards the northern outskirts of the city.
It lasted for about an hour before dying down.
South Sudan has been rocked by fighting that erupted last
month in the capital but quickly spread to other parts of the
Although Juba has been largely calm since the first days of
the unrest, there was a brief gun fight on Saturday evening,
and residents talk of growing tensions.
"I saw a truck full of soldiers going along the Bilpam road.
They were singing. About 20 minutes later the shooting
started and people started running towards town," said Animu
Afekuru, who lives in the neighbourhood.
Western and regional powers, many of which supported the
negotiations that led to South Sudan's secession from Sudan
in 2011, are pressing for a peace deal, fearing the latest
fighting could spiral into civil war and destabilise east
Rebel and government negotiators were supposed to begin their
first face-to-face talks at 3pm (local time) in Addis Ababa
with the aim of halting the clashes, which have killed more
than a thousand people. But by 8:15pm there was no sign of
the two sides sitting down together.
The talks were first set for Jan. 1. Several false starts
have dampened hopes for a swift end to the fighting between
President Salva Kiir's SPLA government forces and rebels
loyal to former vice president Riek Machar.
Both warring factions have said they want peace and are
committed to a ceasefire in principle, though neither has
indicated when they would lay down their weapons.
But there's widespread scepticism in Juba, where residents
are on edge amid swirling rumours of a rebel advance on the
city that lies on the banks of the White Nile.
"I fear for our country in the coming days," said 19-year-old
Nyathok Khat before Sunday's gunfire. "The politicians don't
care about the suffering of the people."
The unrest, which has forced South Sudan to cut its oil
output, has driven more than 200,000 people from their homes.
The United Nations is scrambling to raise money to provide
food, clean water and shelter.