Gunfire erupted in South Sudan's capital, Juba, early on Tuesday morning (December 17), a day after South Sudan President Salva Kiir said security forces had put down an "attempted coup" by soldiers loyal to his former deputy.

Tension in the oil-producing central African state has been rising since July when Kiir sacked vice president Riek Machar, a move that contributed to a widening split in the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party.

Kiir imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Monday and said the security situation was under control but residents in Juba reported heavy fighting in the early hours of Tuesday.

Heavy gunfire first erupted late on Sunday and intensified on Monday morning as blasts were heard from the Bilpam barracks north of the airport and the Jebel barracks south of Juba, where most of the fighting was concentrated, witnesses said.

The fighting is the latest setback for one of Africa's poorest states. Oil production, South Sudan's main source of revenue, was shut down for 15 months till April because of a row with Sudan, which hosts the main export oil pipeline.

While this week's clashes point to the vulnerability within the world's newest state, the fighting also revived memories of the factionalism in the 1990s within the SPLM - the group that fought Sudan's army in the north for two decades.

Presented by Adam Justice

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