South Sudanese rebels have launched an offensive to retake a key town near the border with Ethiopia in what the United Nations said was a clear violation of a truce agreement.
The UN mission said in a statement that the attack was a resumption of hostilities, since President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, rebel leader Riek Machar, met in May and recommitted to a January ceasefire.
UNMISS, the UN mission, laid the blame for the truce violation squarely with Machar’s forces.
But a spokesman for Machar’s forces, Lul Kuang, defended their moves as an act of “self-defence” after what he described as several government attempts to arrest their military commander.
South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer denied that a town Nasir had fallen, describing fighting as ongoing; adding that the armed forces had staged nine offensives on Nasir.
Only days earlier, mediators had pressed the rival sides to resume peace talks being held in Ethiopia, or face increased sanctions.