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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid