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South Sudan shuts down newspaper over report on corruption

By Associated Press
South Sudan President, Salva Kiir
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A South Sudan newspaper says the government ordered its shutdown the day it published a front-page story on a U.S.-based watchdog group’s investigation into corruption by top officials.

An editor of The Nation Mirror, Aurelius Simon Choiee, said Wednesday that the National Security Service did not give a reason for the shutdown. The nationwide publication has a website and prints about 3,000 copies daily.

South Sudan’s information minister and government spokesman did not immediately comment.

The report released Monday by The Sentry, co-founded by actor George Clooney, said South Sudan’s leaders have amassed millions of dollars in wealth abroad amid a civil war in which tens of thousands have been killed.

The report said South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former deputy Riek Machar and those close to both men have looted the country, with luxury cars, business stakes and mansions abroad.

It said the civil war that erupted in December 2013 between supporters of Kiir and Machar has been fueled by competition over national resources such as oil. A peace deal reached a year ago under international pressure has been violated repeatedly by fighting, and Machar fled the country during gunfire in the capital, Juba, in July.

The newspaper’s closure comes as South Sudan’s government has cracked down on civil society groups following a U.N. Security Council visit this month. The council has threatened to impose an arms embargo if South Sudan doesn’t accept the deployment of an extra 4,000 peacekeepers from regional countries to help protect civilians.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based media watchdog, has said five journalists were killed in 2015 for their work in South Sudan. And amid the July chaos, people at a Juba compound popular with foreigners were forced to watch a local journalist be shot dead by South Sudanese soldiers.