South Sudan:Rebels attack army troops near Malakal

South Sudan says fresh fighting has broken out between government troops and rebel forces near the restive northern city of Malakal.

On Thursday, South Sudan military spokesman, Santo Domic Chol, told The Associated Press that government forces had come under attack on Wednesday by a rebel unit under the command of Johnson Olony.

The intensity of the fighting and the number of possible casualties are still unclear, with local residents saying that they could hear guns firing at a nearby United Nations camp for the displaced.

Malakal has been a hot spot in the civil war that began in South Sudan in late 2013, after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused his former vice president and present rebel leader, Riek Machar, who is from the Nuer tribe, of plotting to take the helm of the oil-rich African nation.

The city lies in the resource-rich Upper Nile region.

The United Nations has reported “historical deep-rooted rivalries” between the ethnic groups in the country.

Human rights monitors have accused both sides of the conflict of violating the human rights of members of the rival groups.

International attempts to reconcile the conflicting sides have failed repeatedly.

A peace agreement finally achieved in 2015 has sporadically been violated.

In a major setback to the peace efforts, violent clashes erupted in the capital Juba on July 8 between Kiir’s guards and troops loyal to Machar.

The July clashes have pushed the number of refugees in the conflict-stricken country past the one-million mark, according to the United Nations.

By Africafrique and agencies

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