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Thousands flee as heavy fighting erupts in South Sudan capital

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Thousands of people have fled renewed heavy fighting in South Sudan’s capital as former rebels and government soldiers exchanged fire amid fears of a slide back into full-blown conflict in the five-year-old nation.

The fights started on the western borders of Juba where both previous rebels and government soldiers have bases at the foot of the Jebel Kujur Mountain, close to a UN camp.

Fighting was heard in several other parts of the city throughout the day, including in Gudele — where rebel leader turned Vice President Riek Machar is headquartered — and central Tongping near the international airport, with gunfire intensifying and subsiding at different times.

Forces loyal to Mr Machar said his residence was attacked by the President’s troops.

Regional leaders, including from Kenya and Sudan, have urged an end to the fighting and plan to hold a special summit in Nairobi on Monday.

The renewed conflict was condemned by the UN and others, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying he was “shocked and appalled”.

It pressed South Sudan’s neighbours to help end renewed fighting in the capital, asking for additional peacekeepers.

In a unanimous declaration, the UN Security Council’s 15 member countries also demanded that Mr Kiir and Mr Machar “do their utmost to control their respective forces, urgently end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence”.

It called for the two rivals to “genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba”.

It also urged accountability, warning of sanctions.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon, South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael Makuei blamed the former rebels for the fighting and insisted the Government was “in full control of Juba” even as shooting could be heard in parts of the city.

Mr Makuei said President Salva Kiir would call for a ceasefire later in the day.

“We are expecting his Excellency the President will issue a unilateral ceasefire, binding on his forces. We hope the First Vice President Riek Machar will follow suit,” he said.

The violence comes a day after the world’s youngest country marked its fifth independence anniversary, and is a fresh blow to a peace deal that has failed to end the civil war that broke out in December 2013.

City residents hunkered down or began fleeing their homes as the UN reported the use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and “heavy ground assault weaponry”.

AFP

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PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team

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KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.

PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.

Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.

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