JUBA (HAN) July 8.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. Heavy fighting has erupted inside South Sudan’s presidential palace as President Salva Kiir allegedly attempted to arrest his first deputy, Riek Machar, official sources have said.
There is heavy fighting going on near the Presidential Palace in Juba as we speak,” James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesperson told Sudan Tribune.
He said the fighting started outside the Palace when President Kiir’s security forces opened fire on bodyguards of the First Vice President, Riek Machar, who was inside the Palace for a presidency meeting.
Dak said Machar was called to President Kiir’s office by the President for a Presidency meeting to discuss the clashes which occurred between their forces on Thursday evening.
He said after Machar arrived at the Palace and as the meeting was about to start, heavy shooting started near the Palace.
“I just want to say Dr. Machar is safe under the protection of his bodyguards,” Dak said, without giving more details.
Other sources said the meeting was a setup to lure Machar to the president’s office and arrest him.
The circumstances under which the shooting erupted remain unclear. A presidential source said he heard gunfire and explosions about two blocks away from presidential palace in Juba.
President Kiir has not been seen in public since tension began on Thursday evening, but those in his inner circle said on Friday he was at his residence and had called on the army to restrain.
It was not immediately clear whether the authorities have ordered land and sea borders closed to seal all the exits should situation deteriorate.