Hundreds of angry anti-US protesters have rallied in the restive South Sudan’s capital of Juba, beating at least a couple of journalists, including a female reporter who was repeatedly struck in the face.
The crowd of pro-government demonstrators — including youths, women, and tribal chiefs — was protesting the United States’ decision last week to restrict weapon sales to the war-torn country.
The protest rally was reportedly organized by various youth groups, including the Sudan People Liberation movement (SPLM) Youth League, as well as the South Sudan Council of Chiefs, whose members rode on trucks through Juba’s neighborhoods calling on residents to join the rally.
The violence — mostly involving youths venting their anger at Western-looking nationals — occurred outside the compound of the United Nations mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) near the city’s International Airport.
The protesters also attacked a local journalist, identified as Julius Gale, as he was covering the rare protest event for the Juba-based radio Bakhita. Gale reported that the rally started out peacefully but swiftly turned violent.
According to a report by an officially US-sponsored radio station called South Sudan in Focus, a female journalist who refused to disclose her identity was beaten by protesters repeatedly in the face. She said the angry youths also wrestled her to the ground and tried to strangle her.
The development came after Washington announced unilateral arms restrictions on South Sudan last week in a bid to pressure South Sudan’s government to bring an end to an ethnic conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than four million people.
Juba recalled its ambassador to Washington immediately after the arms embargo was announced.
“We are demanding [that] the government of the United States of America review this decision because as people of South Sudan, we are ready to tell America that what you did cannot help in achieving peace in South Sudan,” said one of the protest organizers identified as Chief Taban Luka as quoted by South Sudan in Focus.