Disgruntled soldiers and politicians led by a former vice president attempted to overthrow the South Sudanese government, a top government official said today, as sporadic fighting continued between factions of the military in the latest violence to hit the world's youngest nation. Some troops within the main army base raided the weapons store in the capital but were turned back, says foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin. The military insisted the situation in Juba was tense but unlikely to get worse.
Some politicians had been arrested, Benjamin said; he could not confirm if former Vice President Riek Machar was among those in detention. President Salva Kiir had ordered a dawn-to-dusk curfew, he said. Explosions and sporadic gunfire rang out early today in Juba amid repeated clashes between factions of the military, according to a military spokesman, who insisted later that the army was now "in full control of Juba." The UN Mission in South Sudan said hundreds of civilians had sought refuge inside UN facilities. Tension had been mounting since Kiir fired Machar as his deputy in July; Machar has said the country "cannot tolerate dictatorship." (Read more Barnaba Marial Benjamin stories.)