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Fighting re-erupts in South Sudan's capital following 'coup attempt'

Witnesses say fresh fighting has broken out in South Sudan's capital, Juba, after a reported 'attempted coup' on the government. Several people have died in the violence, which comes after months of political upheaval.

Gunfire resumed in South Sudan's capital Juba on Tuesday, witnesses said, a day after President Salva Kiir said security forces had successfully put down what he said was

an attempted coup against his government

.

Sporadic shooting was also heard overnight, with the military "clearing out remnants" of a group of renegade soldiers accused of mounting the alleged coup, according to the foreign minister.

A hunt is going on for former Vice President Riek Machar, whom the government suspects of being behind the failed plot.

South Sudan's Under-Secretary for Health said on local radio that at least 26 people had been killed so far in the violence since Sunday evening, with a further 130 wounded.

United Nations radio said at least 7,000 civilians had taken refuge at UN offices.

Ethnic tension

South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, has experienced months of a power struggle between Kiir and his former deputy. Kiir fired Machar from his post in July, raising fears of a political upheaval in the country.

Machar has said he will contest the presidency in 2015, and has openly accused Kiir of establishing a dictatorship.

The local Sudan Tribune newspaper reported on its website that clashes broke out late on Sunday between members of the presidential guard, in which soldiers from Kiir's majority Dinka tribe seemed to fight those from the Nuer tribe to which Machar belongs.

South Sudan has been beset by ethnic tensions since it gained its independence from Sudan in 2011.

tj/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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