South Sudan and rebels trade attacks with truce due to start


South Sudanese government forces and rebels launched attacks on each other’s positions, both sides said, the day a ceasefire that formed part of new peace agreement was due to take effect.

The South Sudanese army, supported by pro-government militia, attacked rebel positions in Mboro near the border with Sudan, said Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesman for the SPLA-IO rebels.
“This is provocative aggression aimed at derailing the peace process,” Lam told Reuters.

Rebels launched co-ordinated attacks on SPLA government army positions in four states, an SPLA spokesman said.
“The rebels want to gain more territory before a permanent ceasefire comes into effect,” Lul Ruai Koang said in a statement to Reuters.

Last Wednesday, South Sudan president Salva Kiir signed a peace deal with rebels including a ceasefire to start 72 hours from the signing of the agreement.

Rebels led by Riek Machar, a former vice president, rejected parts of the deal which comes ahead of a final settlement.

The country’s civil war began in late 2013, about two-and-a-half years after South Sudan gained independence.

Previous peace deals broke down and the war uprooted a quarter of South Sudan’s population of 12 million, ruined agriculture and battered its economy.

Lam did not give details of casualties and said the fighting stopped late afternoon local time.
“We reserve the right to self-defence,” he said.