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Gunfire erupts in South Sudan

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By Reuters
Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

JUBA, South Sudan — Gunshots rang out in South Sudan's capital, Juba, for about an hour on Sunday as peace talks between rebels and the government to hammer out a cease-fire deal faced further delay in neighboring Ethiopia.

The gunfire came from the direction of the military headquarters of the SPLA government forces, toward the northern outskirts of the city. It was not clear who was involved.

Three weeks of fighting, which began in Juba but spread beyond, often along ethnic faultlines, have killed more than a thousand people, forced a cut in oil output and left the new state on the brink of civil war.

Juba has been largely calm since early clashes, though there was a brief gunbattle on Saturday evening and residents talk of tensions.

“I saw a truck full of soldiers going along the Bilpam road. They were singing. About 20 minutes later, the shooting started, and people started running towards town,” said Animu Afekuru, a local resident.

Western and regional powers, many of which supported negotiations that led to South Sudan's secession from Sudan in 2011, are pressing for a peace deal, fearing the fighting could destabilize east Africa.

The unrest pits President Salva Kiir's SPLA government forces against rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar.

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