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Attempted coup in South Sudan defeated

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Juba – The president of South Sudan said Monday he had defeated a coup attempt following a night of fierce fighting in the capital of the newly-independent nation.

The clashes broke out in a barracks close to the city centre shortly before midnight and spread across the city, diplomats and witnesses said, adding that heavy machine guns and mortars were used.

The UN said hundreds of terrified civilians had sought refuge in a United Nation compound, while across the city most residents locked themselves in their homes, an AFP reporter said.

“This was an attempted coup,” President Salva Kiir said, blaming his arch-rival — former vice president Riek Machar who was sacked from the government in July — for starting the violence. “Your government is in full control of the security situation in Juba. The attackers fled and your forces are pursuing them. I promise you justice will prevail,” the president said in a speech.

“I will not allow or tolerate such incidents once again in our new nation. I strongly condemn these criminal actions in the strongest terms possible,” he added.

He said an overnight curfew would be imposed from 6:00 pm Monday to 6:00 am Tuesday, and remain in force until further notice. Army spokesman Phil Aguer also told local radio that troops loyal to the president were “in control of the situation”.

Officials said some arrests had been made, but the fate of Machar was unclear. There was also no word on casualties from the fighting.

Statements from the US and British embassies in Juba urged their nationals to avoid unnecessary movements. The US embassy said there hade been “incidents and sporadic gunfire in multiple locations across Juba” throughout the night.

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