S Sudan authorities close popular radio station

August 19, 2014 - 3:35 PM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Authorities in South Sudan have shut down a popular radio station in the capital, Juba, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Security agents raided the Bakhita Radio station on Saturday and arrested four staffers, including the news editor who remains in detention, the group said in a statement Monday.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek said the radio station had undermined national security by falsely reporting a rebel allegation that government forces had instigated renewed fighting in Unity State, according to the statement.

Tom Rhodes, the group's East Africa representative, said South Sudan's government "has repeatedly taken a heavy hand to the media, even as political instability underlines the public's need for independent sources of information."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she was concerned about the developments and urged the government "to fully adhere to its constitutional guarantees to international obligations."

"We are monitoring the situation closely," she told reporters in Washington.

Since December South Sudan has been wracked by violence as government troops try to put down a rebellion.