South Sudan Warring Sides Break Ceasefire
December 25, 2017 - After two days of signing ceasefire deal in Ethiopia, South Sudanese factions have started fighting again, reports AFP. South Sudan's government and main rebel group accused each other of breaking a ceasefire that went into effect shortly after midnight.
The ceasefire is the latest bid to end a devastating four-year war which broke out after a falling out between former vice president Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir in 2013.
In a statement on Sunday, Machar's rebel group the SPLA-IO accused government forces of launching an "aggressive attack" on their positions in the town of Bieh Payam in the north of the country, as well as positions in southwestern Yei county.
"These are all acts against the peace process as the government in Juba wants the SPLA-IO to respond so that war continues and they continue to loot the resources of the country," said the statement from SPLA-IO spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel.
Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied the incidents, instead accusing the rebels of "serious violations" of the ceasefire deal elsewhere in the country. He said that the rebels ambushed an "administrative convoy that was trying to deliver food and salaries for Christmas" in the southern Amadi state.
"We broke through the ambush and we were able to kill five rebel fighters," he said. He also accused the rebels of attacking military police in Aweil East, in the northwest of the country.
"We have not been engaging the rebels, we have been fighting all in our defensive positions and we also have been fighting whenever we are attacked on the roads," the army spokesman told AFP.