News / Africa

S. Sudan Army, Rebels Accuse Each Other of Breaking Cease-Fire

FILE - Civilians flee from renewed attacks in Bentiu, Unity state of South Sudan, April 20, 2014.
FILE - Civilians flee from renewed attacks in Bentiu, Unity state of South Sudan, April 20, 2014.
Reuters
South Sudan's army and rebel forces blamed each other on Sunday for violating a cease-fire hours after it came into effect, fighting that will frustrate international mediators who had pressured both sides to stop the ethnic-fuelled conflict.

A U.N. official confirmed there had been fighting in the area of the flashpoint town of Bentiu, saying shooting came from both sides. Both army and rebels also reported clashes elsewhere.

President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar met face to face on Friday to sign the ceasefire deal - the second time the two sides have promised to stop fighting after an accord in January swiftly collapsed.

All fighting was supposed to stop 24 hours after the signing late on Friday.

Clashes erupted in South Sudan in December after months of tensions sparked by Kiir's decision in July to sack his long time rival Machar from the post of deputy president.

The conflict threatens to tear apart a nation that only became independent from Sudan in 2011. Deep ethnic divisions are partly to blame for the violence, which pits Kiir's Dinka people against the Nuer of Machar.

South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer said his forces had been attacked in two positions in oil-producing Unity State, one of them near Bentiu, where an ethnic massacre in April raised worries of a potential genocide.

“They attacked only six hours after the ceasefire came into effect,” Aguer told Reuters, although he said the government's SPLA army was able to repulse both assaults.

The U.N. official, who asked not to be named until more information was gathered, said there was heavy fighting around Bentiu on Sunday morning but said it later became more sporadic.

In rival accusations, rebel military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the army launched attacks in Unity state and Upper Nile state, another oil producing region. He said shelling on Upper Nile rebel positions began a few hours before the ceasefire deadline but continued after it into Sunday morning.

“The latest violations of the agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan shows that Kiir is either insincere or not in control of his forces,” he told Reuters.

Western powers call for fighting to stop

Mediators had demanded Kiir and Machar meet for face-to-face talks in Ethiopia this time, rather than leave any ceasefire to negotiators, to obtain their personal commitment to making it last.

The United States and European Union states, which have been pressing hard for a deal, had welcomed Friday's agreement and called on both leaders to issue immediate orders for a halt to fighting.

Western powers were instrumental in South Sudan gaining independence in 2011 and trumpeted the state's creation as a policy success.

Washington, which has already slapped sanctions on  commanders from each side, warned of further steps if fighting continued. The EU also said it was considering punitive measures on those who committed rights abuses or blocked talks.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs