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South Sudan rebels agree to ceasefire talks

The IGAD group of East African countries said both sides had appointed teams to start negotiations

Published: Updated:

South Sudan’s government and rebels agreed a cease fire on Tuesday, mediators said, but there were no immediate confirmations from either side, according to Reuters.

Clashes erupted on Dec. 15 with fighting among a group of soldiers in Juba. The violence later spread to half of the country's ten states.

Less than two hours before the deal, rebels in South Sudan said they had recaptured the key town of Bor after a pre-dawn assault on government forces.

“Bor is under our control... we are now in Bor town,” rebel spokesman Moses Ruai told Agence France-Presse.

Government officials had earlier confirmed heavy fighting in the town, but the rebel claim could not be immediately verified.

“We will retake the part we lost very soon,” Bor's mayor, Nhial Majak Nhial, told Reuters. A rebel spokesman in neighboring Unity state said the rebels had taken the town.

Regional leaders at the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have set Tuesday as a deadline for face-to-face talks between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former Vice President Riek Machar.

The IGAD group of East African countries said both sides had appointed teams to start negotiations.

“President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar agree on a cessation of hostilities and appoint negotiators to develop a monitored and implemented ceasefire,” it added, in statements carried by Reuters.

The bloc did not say when any ceasefire or talks might start.

Western and regional powers have pushed for negotiations in a bid to end the ethnic fighting that has already killed at least 1,000 people, cut South Sudan's oil output and raised fears of a full-blown civil war in the heart a fragile region.

(With Reuters)