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South Sudan Vice President Survives Assassination Attempt | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Taban Deng Gai. Jok Solomun/Reuters

London- South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai survived an attempted assassination on Tuesday when a group of gunmen attacked his convoy en route to the capital Juba.

Deng Gai went unharmed. However, three of his bodyguards were wounded.

“Unidentified gunmen have opened heavy fire after laying an ambush. Bodyguards took shield outside the car, but three of them were wounded,” a military officer, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The convoy came under attack as it headed north from Juba to the town of Bor.

“Three people were wounded. These are security guards of the first vice president,” said State Minister of Information Jacob Akech Deng. “No soldier died and the convoy of the first vice president has reached Bor safely.”

Deng Gai, who joined the government last year, was not in the convoy because he was traveling by plane at the time, Deng said.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, erupted into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar.

The fighting that followed split the country along ethnic lines, spurred hyper-inflation and plunged parts of the nation into famine, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

The warring sides signed an internationally-backed peace deal in 2015 and Machar was again sworn in as vice president, only for a new round of warfare to erupt that forced Machar to flee Juba in July last year.

Kiir subsequently replaced Machar with Deng Gai, a former chief opposition negotiator who broke ranks with Machar but was not able to persuade a large number of rebels to follow suit.

Machar’s group, the country’s biggest rebel force and known as the SPLA-In Opposition, was not immediately available for comment.