Fresh clashes erupted Thursday between South Sudanese army troops and rebels loyal to former Vice-President Riek Machar in country's north, said an army spokesman.
Brigadier Lul Ruai said in the capital Juba that South Sudanese forces were engaged in heavy fighting with Machar’s forces in the town of Gezira, Rubkona County.
The fighting that began in the morning violated a cease-fire the sides had declared earlier, he said.
The military official described the fresh offensive by Machar's forces as a "last-ditch effort" to gain more areas under their control before the next round of South Sudanese peace talks.
Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, Machar’s deputy military spokesman, confirmed that they were engaged in the fighting, blaming government forces for the latest episode of clashes.
The eight-country African trade bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the South Sudanese peace monitoring group Joint Monitor and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) on Monday said they had postponed a third round of peace talks until May.
The third round of negotiations in Addis Ababa was scheduled for April 26 and 30 but JMEC said more time was needed for consultations among the parties.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation has been embroiled in civil war since December and the conflict, now its fifth year, has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.
The war has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 4 millions people, almost a quarter of the country’s 12 million population.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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