* Army spokesman says situation under control
* Fresh gunfire heard across city at night
* Fighting highlights tensions in army
* African states plan force to uphold ceasefire
(Adds fresh gunfire in Juba)
By Carl Odera and Aaron Maasho
JUBA/ADDIS ABABA, March 5 At least five soldiers
were killed in fighting between soldiers over delayed salaries
at a barracks in South Sudan's capital on Wednesday, an army
spokesman said, three months after clashes in the same military
base triggered a broader conflict.
Although the spokesman said that situation at the barracks
was under control, fresh gunfire echoed across the city on
Wednesday night. Witnesses contacted by telephone in several
parts of the city said they were taking shelter inside.
One U.N. source told Reuters said there was shooting in the
area of the base of the U.N. mission UNMISS.
The latest flare-up highlights tension that persists in
Africa's newest nation, which came close to civil war before a
Jan. 23 ceasefire that has since been frequently violated.
Regional African bloc IGAD has been trying to mediate but a
new round of peace talks has yet to start in earnest.
A top mediator said IGAD aimed to send troops to South Sudan
to enforce the ceasefire and protect vital oil fields, after
crude output fell by a third due to the conflict.
Uganda has raised alarm in the West for sending troops into
South Sudan to assist the government of President Salva Kiir,
who is battling forces loyal to his sacked deputy president,
Riek Machar, who commands his forces from the bush.
Spokesman for the government SPLA army Malak Ayuen said
Wednesday's clashes erupted between bodyguards of commando
commander Gatwech Gai, one of the few Nuer senior officers not
to defect to Machar, also an ethnic Nuer. Kiir is a Dinka.
He said at least five soldiers were killed in the fighting
sparked by some soldiers "asking from their commander why their
salaries had been delayed".
"We are in a crisis, it was something beyond our control and
that is why the salaries were going out now," Ayuen said. "The
situation is now under control."
A few hours after he spoke, the fresh shooting was heard.
Several of South Sudan's neighbours worry about turning the
conflict into a regional struggle and are frustrated by the
continued violations of the ceasefire.
GUNFIRE, BILLOWS OF SMOKE
Wednesday's fighting was in the same barracks where clashes
in mid-December led to a broader conflict that has killed
thousands and driven more than 800,000 people from their homes.
The conflict has re-opened deep ethnic faultlines.
Gunfire sent people in Juba scurrying through the streets
for safety. Smoke billowed out of the barracks, which the
spokesman said was caused by stores hit during the fighting.
IGAD is discussing a "protection and stabilisation force"
with the African Union and United Nations to monitor the
cessation of hostilities and protect oil fields, officials said.
"The parties would be tempted to fight for control of these
resources and if this is protected by this force then definitely
it will further stabilise the situation in South Sudan," Seyoum
Mesfin, IGAD's chief mediator, told a news conference.
Both sides have accused the other of breaking the truce. The
worst fighting since the ceasefire was in Malakal, the capital
of South Sudan's main oil-producing Upper Nile State.
Overall oil output has fallen to 160,000 barrels per day
from about 245,000 bpd before the conflict flared in December.
Seyoum said Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi
were ready to contribute troops to the force, whose size and
mandate would be determined at a meeting in Addis Ababa of
regional heads of state within the next two weeks.
Officials said it could involve sending a "small contingent"
of about 2,000 troops.
"We want to make it cost effective and affordable for the
international community to sustain this mission," Seyoum said,
adding other standby forces could be sent if violence persisted.
IGAD-sponsored talks are due to resume on March 20 after
delays over rebel demands for the freeing of four detainees who
rebels say are political prisoners but the government calls coup
(Writing by Aaron Maasho and Richard Lough; Editing by Edmund
Blair and Tom Heneghan)