Fighting Flares in South Sudan as Regional Bloc Touts TalksBy and
Rebels, military both claim victory in northeast clashes
East African body says it’s convening peace consultations
South Sudanese government forces and rebels clashed in a northeastern state with both sides claiming victory, as East African countries attempt to restart talks aimed at ending the four-year civil war.
Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said by phone that clashes around Waat town in Bieh state claimed the lives of four soldiers and 91 insurgents. Rebel spokesman Mabior Garang Mabior accused government forces of breaching a cease fire and said the ongoing fighting made it impossible to give casualty figures.
Another rebel official, William Gatjiath Deng, claimed in a statement that 200 government soldiers were killed and 210 injured in a rebel attempt to retake Waat that began Oct. 1. There was no immediate independent confirmation of the violence.
The conflict that began in the oil-producing nation in December 2013 has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced 4 million people from their homes, with both rebels and government troops accused of atrocities. A transitional government formed in April 2016 under a peace deal was thrown into turmoil just weeks later, when the main rebel leader and his forces were driven from the capital in further violence.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional bloc that helped broker that pact, said in a statement Tuesday that its officials are holding consultations in Ethiopia with parties to the previous agreement and “estranged groups.”