Heavy explosions are shaking South Sudan's capital Juba Monday morning as clashes between government and opposition forces entered their fifth day, witnesses say, pushing the country back toward civil war.
An Associated Press reporter in the city reported widespread shooting preventing residents from moving around.
A "massive explosion" hit shortly after 9 a.m. followed by further blasts in the Tomping area of Juba, home to embassies, the airport and a U.N. base, said an aid worker.
"It rings through the whole city every time they fire," said the aid worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to press. "I think one of the tanks must be near me, my ears are burning."
Explosions and "very heavy gunfire" sounding "like popcorn," was reported by a resident in the Gudele area, who insisted on anonymity for safety.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan reported on Twitter that clashes restarted near its compound in Jebel, where some 30,000 civilians have taken refuge. The opposition also has a base near Jebel and their leader, First Vice President Riek Machar, also has his home there.
A U.N. peacekeeper from China was killed at the base Sunday night and others were injured, according to U.N. mission spokeswoman Shantal Persaud. An eyewitness in the base who was not authorized to speak to the press told AP that he saw a government tank fire on a Chinese armored personnel carrier.
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There were 67 injuries and 8 deaths in the base yesterday, according to an internal situation report circulated among humanitarians and seen by AP. Water tanks have not been able to bring water to the tens of thousands sheltering inside.
Some 10,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Juba, sheltering at the two U.N.bases, a World Food Program compound and other areas, said U.N. OCHA spokeswoman Matilda Moyo.
The United States told its citizens it would evacuate all non-essential staff from the country. The Canadian embassy has closed entirely, according to a message sent to its citizens.
The weekend clashes escalated following a skirmish last Thursday which left five soldiers dead. Since then, more than 100 people have been reported killed.