South Sudan's army says it repulsed a rebel attack Thursday on the outskirts of the capital, Juba, that caused panic among residents who heard gunfire.
Witnesses say the Kapuri military post west of Juba came under attack at about 11:30 p.m. local time. Army spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang blamed a group loyal to renegade Colonel Chan Garang, who defected from the army last year and joined the forces of rebel leader Riek Machar.
Koang said one army soldier was wounded and several attackers were killed. "They attacked our position, and our force fought in self-defense and they [rebels] were repulsed and pursued," he said.
A resident of Juba's Gurei neighborhood, who asked not to be identified for fear of government retaliation, said the attack lasted about 40 minutes.
"We were taken up by surprise with a lot of gunshots and we could not know what is happening. All our children got terrified and [it was] just like war has returned to Juba," the woman said. "We are expecting peace this new year, but yesterday it was not good; everybody was scared."
Garang told VOA's South Sudan in Focus last year that he quit South Sudan's army because it and the government under President Salva Kiir have failed in their work.
Thursday night's attack is the first incident of violence in the town since authorities assured residents of tight security during the Christmas and new year festivities.
The government and rebel groups signed a cease-fire agreement four days before Christmas but clashes have continued, with each side accusing the other of cease-fire violations.