JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan says former military chief of staff Paul Malong has been released from house arrest on humanitarian grounds and flown to Kenya for medical treatment.

"He's free to go anywhere he wants," information minister Michael Makuei tells The Associated Press.

This is Malong's first trip abroad since he was fired in May.

Tensions were high in the capital, Juba, this month after President Salva Kiir dispatched soldiers to surround Malong's house and ordered his bodyguards disarmed.

The situation calmed after mediation by community leaders.

A former close ally of Kiir, Malong has been accused of leading last year's fighting in Juba and controlling an ethnic militia. The United States in September imposed sanctions on him along with two other senior officials for undermining security amid the country's civil war.