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South Sudan security shuts key radio for broadcasting rebel views

18 August 2014, 13:50

Nairobi - Security forces in war-torn South Sudan have shut one of the country's main independent radio stations and arrested its news editor after it broadcast rebel views, the station said Monday.

The Juba-based Bakhita Radio, run by the Roman Catholic Church as part of a network of community-run stations, was shut Saturday after reporting on renewed fighting between rebels and government.

News editor Ocen David Nicholas is in "detention for balancing a news story" and the station remained closed Monday, Bakhita said in a statement.

Radio director Albino Tokwaro has since written a letter of apology to security forces "for broadcasting opposition's views", added the station, one of the most popular in the capital.

Earlier this month rights groups warned that security forces had cracked down on journalists, suffocating debate on how to end the fighting, which has now entered its ninth month.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said South Sudan's feared National Security Service had created a "growing atmosphere of fear" by intimidating and unlawfully detaining journalists.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.5 million have fled fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and ragtag militia forces divided by tribe.

Aid agencies have warned of the likelihood of famine if fighting continues.

Fighting broke out in December, sparked by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

The United Nations and regional nations have all warned of sanctions if fighting continues.

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