Clashes between government and rebel forces started late on the night of Thursday, January 4, and continued into Friday, January 5. According to a military spokesman, rebel troops assaulted an outpost near Kapur, west of the capital city of Juba, killing several people. Fighting was ongoing as of Friday morning (local time). Residents in Juba also reported gunfire during the night of January 4. Clashes reportedly occurred in the Lemon Gaba area of the city. On Friday morning, residents said that there was a heavy security presence, including tanks and soldiers, in the area. The US Embassy in Juba issued a temporary curfew for its personnel following the clashes on January 5, effective through the weekend. Until 06:30 Monday, January, 8, all personnel will be restricted from unofficial/personal travel after 19:00 and official travel after 20:30. Tensions remain high in the country and further clashes may occur in the coming days.
Representatives from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA-IO, among other groups, signed a permanent ceasefire on December 21 in an effort to revive the 2015 peace agreement. The cessation of hostilities officially went into effect on December 24. However, violations were reported shortly after the ceasefire was supposed to go into effect by both the government and the SPLA-IO.
South Sudan has been wracked by years of political, interethnic, and intercommunal violence - exacerbated by border and oil revenue disputes with Sudan. Following the 2011 signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave the country its independence from Sudan, the predominantly north-south conflict has given way to a pattern of internal violence. Since December 2013, the country has experienced an intermittent civil war waged between the government of President Salva Kiir and the SPLA on one side, and former Vice President Riek Machar and the SPLA-IO on the other. The "Compromise Peace Agreement," signed by the SPLA and SPLA-IO in 2015, failed to prevent additional outbreaks of ethnic and political violence. The conflict has continued despite international support for state-building and peace-keeping - including the 12,000-strong United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), deployed since 2011.
Many Western governments advise against nonessential travel to South Sudan. Certain regions should be particularly avoided, including the states of Unity and Upper Nile, the north of Warrap state, parts of Eastern and Central Equatoria states, and areas along the border with the Central African Republic, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If travel is necessary, ensure that proper security protocols are in place.
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