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Clashes renew in South Sudan amid arrests of top officials

KHARTOUM, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Clashes renewed in South Sudan's capital of Juba Tuesday at a time when the security authorities launched wide-range arrests among senior political leaders in the south, according to local South Sudanese media.

Heavy gunfire took place Tuesday inside the general military command in Juba city where the sound of shooting and heavy weapons could be heard, the Sudan Tribune website reported.

It further disclosed that a security force, supported by members of the Republican Guard and intelligence on Tuesday arrested former Secretary-General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Pagan Amum at his home.

A force unit comprised of more than 100 soldiers from different security organs stormed into Amum's house near Juba airport, arrested him and took him to an unidentified location, it added.

It said that Taban Deng, a leading SPLM member and former governor of Unity State together with former ambassador Ezekiel Lul, former environment minister Alfred Lado and former Lakes state governor Chol Tong Mayay were also arrested.

Earlier it was reported that South Sudan's security authorities have arrested many SPLM political and military leaders including former deputy defense minister Majak Agot, former security minister Oyay Deng Ajak, former interior minister Gier Chuang and former youth minister Cirino Hiteng.

Violent clashes erupted late Sunday night in Juba between two groups both belonging to the presidential guard, according to the military.

South Sudan's presidency said in a statement that the armed clashes were a military coup attempt planned by sacked vice- president Riek Machar. It also declared a state of emergency until further notice and imposed a curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. local time.

The military clashes in the country's capital city of Juba since Sunday night have left 26 people dead and 140 others injured as stated by Sudan's State Minister for Health Makur Korion Tuesday.

Deep differences emerged between two groups within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit fired his vice president Riek Machar last July.

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