Bishop of Salisbury: 'Pray for South Sudan'

(AP)

The Bishop of Salisbury has encouraged believers to increase their prayers for the people of South Sudan following reports of further politically-incited violence and news that the government has resisted an attempted coup.

The South Sudanese government has failed to establish a peaceful and stable state since declaring independence from Sudan in 2011, and has been subject to significant political unrest.

Clashes between rival groups of soldiers broke out overnight on Sunday in what has been named as an "attempted coup" by soldiers loyal to current President Salva Kiir's former deputy Riek Machar, who was removed from office in July after accusing the president of dictatorship.

Kiir has declared a curfew which is effective from 6pm to 6am every night in the capital city of Juba after hundreds of civilians were forced to flee their homes and find refuge in UN bases across the city as a result of the violence.

In a television address, the President said that fighting broke out after an unidentified person fired shots in the air near a ruling party conference and an attack was made on army headquarters.

He assured, however, that the government was in full control of the situation and declared that the perpetrators would be punished.

"I will not allow or tolerate such incidents once again in our new nation. I strongly condemn these criminal actions in the strongest terms possible," he said.

He stressed that those responsible would have to stand "before the appropriate law institution", and that his government "is doing all it can to make sure that citizens are secured and safe".

In response to these new developments, Bishop Nicolas Holtam said: "Yesterday we were getting reports of gun fire in the city and this morning there are also reports of refugees seeking shelter from the UN.

"Many of us in the Diocese of Salisbury pray each day for both the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and for both Republics.

"In this run-up to Christmas, with all the hope Christ brings of God's peace in a fragile world, we pray for them particularly during this further outbreak of violence."

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