South Sudan rebels report attacks by government troops
The conflict has so far claimed the lives of over 1,000 people, with over 800,000 forced to flee their homes
A brigadier speaking for rebels in South Sudan said on Sunday that government forces have attacked their positions, violating a fragile ceasefire in what he described as a deliberate attempt to stop imminent peace talks.
Brigadier Lul Ruai Koang said that rebel commanders in South Sudan report that government soldiers and allied militias have attacked the northern town of Leer and surrounding villages in Unity state on Saturday, which resulted in the deaths of several people and destroyed property.
Defensive positions in Upper Nile state were also attacked on the same day, he added.
Koang said Saturday's attacks “are clear indications that (President Salva) Kiir's government is not interested in peace but prepared for war” – being consistent with an ongoing “trend in government destruction and carnage,” in comments carried by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, South Sudan military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said that he was unaware of such skirmishes occurring.
The allegations from the rebel brigadier could not be independently verified.
The United Nations has said that both sides in the conflict have committed violations of human rights in the conflict that began in mid-December, when portions of the army defected to the rebel side, which is largely composed of fighters loyal to Riek Machar, the sacked former vice president who is behind the rebellion.
Government troops mostly hail from President Kiir’s Dinka tribe, which is the largest in the newly-formed nation.
The one-and-a-half month conflict has so far claimed the lives of over 1,000 people, with over 800,000 forced to flee their homes.
Tigist Hailu, a spokeswoman for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional bloc mediating the peace talks, said that a 14-member team visited South Sudan on Saturday to attempt to put in place a mechanism for the truce.
The second round of talks is scheduled to start later this month.
(With the Associated Press)