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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid