Juba/Addis Ababa, February 10, 2015 (SSNA) -- Heavy fighting between government and rebel forces broke out in the capital of South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity State, on Tuesday with both sides using heavy artilleries, the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has learned.
Fighting has been raging since early Tuesday with both sides accusing each other of attack.
South Sudanese government said rebel forces have attacked their positions in and around Bentiu and accuse the anti-government fighters of violating the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CHA) which was signed in January last year in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
“The rebels are shelling our positions in Bentiu. This is a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, and we will act in self-defence,” South Sudan’s Defence Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, was quoted by AFP as saying.
Meanwhile, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) dismiss Juuk’s claims, saying Juba government is relying on lies and that the accusations Minister Juuk labeled against the opposition forces are ‘pure lies’.
“What really happened is that Juba soldiers with their foreign allies first attacked our outposts; they came and attacked us thinking they will flush us out of our positions,” Captain Peter Keer Mayoi who said he participated in the fight told the South Sudan News Agency by satellite phone in Unity State.
“These are pure lies, they should blame themselves not us because we were just responding to their attacks...now Kuol Manyang Juuk is lying because we defeated his soldiers back to where they came from,” he asserted.
Fighting erupted in December of 2013 between different units of presidential guards after months of political chaos among senior leaders of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party.
President Kiir accuses his main-rival, Dr. Machar, of planning a coup. Machar denies the allegation saying Kiir premeditated the alleged coup in an attempt to try to get rid of his rivals.