South Sudan ceasefire broken within hours of coming into effect

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JOHANNESBURG– The latest ceasefire in South Sudan has been broken only hours after coming into effect after the country’s army clashed with rebels in an oil-producing region, the Sudan Tribune reports.

Both sides accused the other of starting Sunday’s fighting around the town of Koch in Unity state. No casualty figures have been given at this stage.

Following the eruption of the latest violence, seventeen aid workers fled.

Last Thursday the government and rebel groups signed a ceasefire in the latest attempt to end a four-year civil war and let humanitarian groups bring desperately needed aid to civilians.

The ceasefire formally came into force on Sunday morning, but fighting broke out soon afterwards.

“Our forces came under heavy fire this morning in Koch county,” Dickson Gatluak, a spokesman for the government side, said.

“Our forces acted in self-defence and repulsed the attacking forces and defeated them,” he added in a statement.

However, Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesman for the opposition said the army attacked first and rebel forces subsequently pursued government soldiers as they fled towards the town.

The war in the world’s newest country erupted in 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy, Dr Riek Machar, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO).

Fighting has largely followed ethnic lines with forces loyal to Kiir, who is a Dinka, and Machar who is Nuer. The fighting has spread across the country, largely along ethnic lines between forces loyal to Kiir, who is Dinka, and Machar, who is Nuer.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have died in the war and a third of the population has been displaced. Hundreds of thousands face famine in  Africa’s biggest humanitarian crisis.

African News Agency (ANA)