December 17, 2013 / 6:44 PM / 6 years ago

U.S. orders some diplomats out of South Sudan because of unrest

Civilians take shelter at the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) compound on the outskirts of the capital Juba in South Sudan, in this December 17, 2013 handout from the UNMISS. REUTERS/UNMISS/Handout via Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it ordered its non-essential officials to leave South Sudan because of violence, warned U.S. citizens not to visit and urged those already there to leave immediately.

In a travel warning, the State Department also said that its embassy in the capital, Juba, was suspending “normal operations until further notice and cannot provide routine consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan.”

Gunfire and explosions were heard throughout Juba on Tuesday, a day after South Sudan President Salva Kiir said security forces had put down a coup attempt by a faction within the army. Twenty-six people have been killed in fighting.

Kiir blamed the trouble on Riek Machar, a former vice president and long-time rival from an opposing ethnic group. Machar was being sought on Tuesday after 10 senior political figures were arrested as part of the attempted coup.

The State Department said it was suspending normal operations until further notice and would not be able to provide routine consular services to Americans in South Sudan.

“U.S. citizens who choose to stay in South Sudan despite this warning should review their personal security situation and seriously reconsider their plans to remain,” the department said in its travel advisory.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Bill Trott and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay

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