South Sudan Cease-Fire Broken as Rebels, Government Swap Blame

A renewed commitment to end five months of fighting in South Sudan was broken within hours as the government and rebels blamed each other for violating a truce that came into effect late yesterday.

Both sides were in “active combat” around Bentiu, the capital of oil-rich Unity state, while five rebel positions in Upper Nile region were shelled, Lul Ruai Koang, a spokesman for rebel forces, said in an e-mailed statement today. Government troops early today repelled an attack near Bentiu, President Salva Kiir told reporters in Juba. Insurgents also attacked at Mathiang near Nasir in Upper Nile, Kiir said.

“You’ve seen now the violations that have happened in one day” on account of the rebels, Kiir said.

Clashes erupted in the world’s newest nation on Dec. 15 after Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, a charge he denies. The violence has left thousands of people dead and forced more than one million to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

The leaders agreed to end fighting within 24 hours late on May 9 and to create a transitional government to take the country to new elections.

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