Juba airport closed after overnight fighting


The fighting overnight in Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, has caused the closure of the international airport in Juba, with flights from the region, i.e. Nairobi, Entebbe, Kigali, Addis Ababa and beyond cancelled.

This has left passengers in Juba stranded who tried to leave the country to flee the unrest while UN compounds in the city and outside have seen hundreds of women and children flock to their gates in search of a safe refuge.

The situation on the ground is not entirely clear though the public radio and TV channels appear to be in government hand, as President Kiir in a broadcast announced that 1) a curfew be in place from 6 pm to 6 am and 2) that soldiers loyal to former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar were responsible for the outbreak of fighting. Additional information sourced speaks of only periodic gunfire from the city as of a quarter to two pm, as this report is uploaded, and that troops loyal to Kiir are pursuing their opponents out of the city.

Arrests are now expected and the whereabouts of Kiir’s main political opponents within the SPLM, who had for months taken issue with his decisions taken what they claimed was against party rules and existing laws, are unknown at this time.

No confirmation could be obtained about the extent of the fighting which broke out last night just before midnight and included, according to sources in Juba, not just rifle fire but also mortar rounds and perhaps even artillery fire.

No details of any damage inside the city were available either, as most sources are holed up in their homes or offices. While making calls has been described as ‘difficult‘ does the internet at this stage still work, lending a platform for speculation and rumours galore.

The land border at Nimule with Uganda has reportedly also been closed without any indication when borders, or airport, will resume operations.

Watch this space for future updates.

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