South Sudan beefs up security amid mounting tension

South Sudan’s Kiir. Photo:
South Sudan’s Kiir. Photo:

Juba, November 19, 2016 (SSNA) – South Sudanese government has deployed new military battalions in and around Juba as rumors swirled that some changes within the leadership of national army (SPLA) are imminent.

Residents of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, say heavily armed “mysterious gunmen” in military uniforms are moving in and around Juba threatening civilians and telling people to go inside their houses, the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has learned.

Frightening civilians explained that large number of militia-looking soldiers came from nowhere Saturday morning and can be seen everywhere in proximity of Juba, adding that there have been strange military activities around J1 and on road leading to Luri on Friday. Luri is known to locals as Salva Kiir’s private military base.

“We woke up this morning [Saturday] and what we saw was terrifying,” one resident who prefers to be identify as Elizabeth for fear of retaliation told the South Sudan News Agency.

“After we saw those militia-looking troops in our farm, we went inside our house and called a relative in Yei to check on them and to see if they have the same problem,” Elizabeth continues.

Elizabeth disclosed to the SSNA that her relative told her that Yei town is full of the same mysterious soldiers who seem to occupy the city overnight.

“This is a mystery,” the terrifying Elizabeth said, adding that “I don’t know who brought these mysterious gunmen to our villages.”

The SSNA reached out to a high-level government source Saturday evening and confirmed that new battalions have been deployed in and around the capital. The official admitted to the SSNA that Juba is now under a new security force and that government has just graduated more than 10,000 new recruits. The source said civilians should not live in fear because the newly deployed troops in and around the capital are well-trained soldiers who are there to protect them from rebels.

“The presidential guards force still there. But we have new graduates who are part of Juba security and surround areas,” said the source.

Fighting has been raging in the oil-rich Unity State with rival forces accusing each other of attacks.

The new government military build-up in and around Juba comes as United Nations warned of rise in ethnic killings and looming genocide and that there is a real sense that the young nation could return to all-out war next dry season.

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