South Sudan Fighting After Cease-Fire Leaves at Least 15 Dead

A permanent cease-fire pact reached between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar has not stopped fighting on the ground, with at least 15 civilians killed in a single incident, an army spokesman said.

Rebels attacked government positions in Southern Liech and Northern Liech States in the Greater Upper Nile region between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Saturday, army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said by phone from the capital, Juba. A separate early morning attack at a cattle camp in Maban in Northern Upper Nile resulted in 15 civilians being killed while 22 others were wounded and livestock stolen, Koang said.

On June 28, President Kiir issued a decree directing the army to abide by the cease-fire from June 30, an order reciprocated by Machar.

The conflict, which began in South Sudan in December 2013, has left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced four million others. Kiir and Machar are in talks that are expected to yield an agreement that will bring them back together for a second time in a transitional government aimed at ushering in democratic elections. A similar attempt in 2016 ended with loyalists of the two engaging in five days of battle in the capital.

Rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel blamed government forces for attacking their positions in the northwest of the country. The army attacked rebel positions on the outskirts of Wau early Saturday morning, triggering a fight that was still going on by noon, he said by phone.