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November 18, 2018

South Sudan government, rebels trade attacks as truce due to start

South Sudan President Salva Kiir attends the signing of a peace agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar in Khartoum, Sudan, June 27, 2018. /REUTERS
South Sudan President Salva Kiir attends the signing of a peace agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar in Khartoum, Sudan, June 27, 2018. /REUTERS

 South Sudanese government forces and rebels launched attacks on each other's positions on Saturday, both sides said, the day a ceasefire that formed part of new peace agreement was due to take effect.

The South Sudanese army, supported by pro-government militia, attacked rebel positions in the northwestern village of Mboro near the border with Sudan, said Lam Gabriel, a spokesman for the SPLA-IO rebels.

"This is a provocative aggression aimed at derailing the peace process," Lam told Reuters.

But rebels launched coordinated attacks on the SPLA government army positions in four states, an SPLA spokesman said.

"The rebels wanted to gain more territory before a permanent ceasefire," comes into effect, Lul Ruai Koang said in a statement to Reuters on Saturday.

On Wednesday, South Sudan's President, Salva Kiir, signed a peace deal with rebels that included a ceasefire to start in 72 hours from the signing of the agreement.

But rebels led by Riek Machar, a former Vice President, rejected parts of the deal, which comes ahead of a final settlement.

The country's civil war began in late 2013, about two-and-a-half years after South Sudan gained independence from Sudan.

Previous peace deals have broken down and the war has uprooted a quarter of South Sudan's population of 12 million, ruined the country's agriculture and battered its economy.

Lam did not give details of casualties and said the fighting stopped late afternoon local time.

"We reserve the right to self defence," he said.

Read: South Sudan to hold elections after three-years of power sharing

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