South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, first vice president Riek Machar, and vice president stood together and spoke while gunfire echoed outside the presidential palace in the capital Juba Friday night.
Heavy gunfire including artillery fire has been heard from around the presidential compound since about 5:30 pm. Tanks were seen moving around the compound.
According to a witness, there was more heavy gunfire exchanged at Juba Bridge around Gumbo area, spreading toward Cherikat, causing citizens to flee. Gunfire was also heard from Hai Amarat, Tongpiny, and Jebel neighborhoods.
About three military helicopters have also been spotted hovering above the city.
According to Kiir, the three men were meeting to discuss the incident of Thursday night when five soldiers were killed in a skirmish in Gudele between SPLA and SPLA-IO forces.
“What is happening outside is something that we cannot explain to you,” said Kiir. “Three of us were sitting inside here meeting, discussing the situation of yesterday what happened in Gudele and then talking about what we can do in the implementation of the agreement and to build confidence among the forces and the civil population.”
“So now this thing have started before we could even finish and we were actually after finishing I was going to give a statement on the occassion of the independence of South Sudan tomorrow, and then Dr Riek was also going to make statement reassuring people about what happened yesterday.”
Machar repeated that the three men were meeting to discuss the recent incident, and appealed for citizens to remain calm.
“This is a very unfortunate incident which none of us really knows what has happened, all we want to tell our public now is that they should remain calm, they should remain calm, this incident also will be controlled, and measures will be taken so that peace is restored even to the heart of the city itself,” Machar said.
Machar said they will overcome this incident and that is why the three are sitting together.
For his part, Igga said: “We were addressing the issue of yesterday where the shooting actually happened so that we take concrete steps toward that and then we were entering into the occassion of tomorrow where the president was going to address you…and what happened outside none of us here knows, so we will have to really investigate and take really severe measures against anybody who started this uncalled for fight this evening.”
Meanwhile, James Magok Chilim, director for South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, appeared on SSBC and asked the public not to run but to remain in their homes.
More to follow…