Fresh fighting broke out in South Sudan on Sunday, just hours after the country’s president Salva Kiir and the rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to a cease-fire that the U.S. secretary of state and United Nations secretary-general both worked on the end the five months conflict.
South Sudanese Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juk said rebels attacked government positions near Bentiu at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. He said government troops killed 27 rebels and captured some arms.
“At 8:30 they also attacked our position…along the road between Bentiu and the Thar Jath oil fields. Our forces repulsed them,” he said.
An opposition spokesman, Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Kong, said government forces attacked rebels in two states.
He said government fighters were in “active combat” with opposition troops around Bentiu. Brig. Gen. Kong said fighters from Sudanese militias were aiding government troops around Bentiu.
“The latest violations of the agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan shows that [South Sudan President Salva] Kiir is either insincere or not in control of his forces,” Brig. Gen. Kong said in a statement.
He said the international community and IGAD, a regional bloc that brokered Friday’s peace deal, should know that Mr. Kiir’s forces were first to violate the agreement.
Humanitarian workers hoped Friday’s deal would allow residents to return home and plant crops. More than 1.3 million people have fled their homes because of the fighting, and aid experts say that if residents don’t plant crops by the end of May mass hunger is likely to set in—possibly even famine.