Clashes break out near South Sudan capital in truce violation

In this file photo taken on Dec. 21, 2017, African Union chairman Moussa Faki (2nd L-top) sits with members of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) as they attend a signing ceremony for the cease-fire agreement among South Sudanese parties in Addis Ababa. (AFP)
Updated 05 January 2018

Clashes break out near South Sudan capital in truce violation

JUBA: Clashes have broken out near South Sudan’s capital Juba between government troops and rebels, officials said on Friday, the latest violation of a cease-fire signed last month.
The deal reached in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa between the government of President Salva Kiir and a myriad of opposition groups had aimed to end a four-year-old war in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.
But several violations have since taken place, for which all sides have been blamed.
On Friday, the army’s spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said several people were killed after rebel troops attempted to seize a military outpost west of Juba held by Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
“At about 10:30 p.m. last night, bandits under the direct command of Lt. Col. Chan Garang attacked the SPLA’s position at the north of Kapur,” he told a news conference, referring to a high-ranking officer who defected from the government last year.
Koang did not give details on how many had died, but said fighting was going on.
Rebels under former vice president Riek Machar, whose sacking in mid-2013 amid a power struggle triggered the civil war months later, denied the charges.
“That was not us, we never attack Juba,” said Lam Paul Gabriel, the group’s deputy spokesperson. “It is government propaganda (meant) to accuse us of violations.”
The conflict in the world’s youngest country has been fought largely along ethnic lines, pitting forces loyal to Kiir — an ethnic Dinka — and Machar, who is Nuer.
The war has forced a third of South Sudan’s 12 million-strong population to flee their homes.
The cease-fire is intended to revive a 2015 peace deal that collapsed in 2016 after heavy fighting erupted in Juba, with talks on a new power-sharing arrangement and a new date for polls scheduled to follow.
It is also designed to allow humanitarian groups access to civilians caught in the fighting.
Neighbouring countries who brokered that agreement have warned the warring sides that they would back punitive measures if violations persisted.
The United States, Britain and Norway, who form a group that supported a 2005 accord that led to South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, have also threatened to impose individual or group sanctions for those violating the cease-fire.

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers at Gaza border: ministry

Updated 59 min 37 sec ago

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers at Gaza border: ministry

  • Attack helicopter and tank had fired at ‘armed suspects’ along the barrier that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian health ministry said Sunday, hours after three rockets were fired at Israel from the blockaded enclave.

The ministry said another Palestinian was hospitalized in the shooting that came after the Israeli army said an attack helicopter and tank had fired at “armed suspects” along the barrier that separates Israel from Gaza.

“We just identified a number of armed suspects from Gaza approaching the security fence with Israel. We fired toward them,” the army said a statement posted on its Twitter account.

The latest violence came after Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired three rockets at southern Israel late Saturday, the Israeli army said, in the second such attack in 24 hours.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The army said two of the projectiles had been intercepted by its Iron Dome aerial defense system but it did not specify what happened to the third rocket.

Air raid sirens had sounded in the southern town of Sderot and its surroundings.

On Friday Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket at Sderot, in what the army said was the first such attack since July 12.

In response, Israeli warplanes struck at least three targets in the Gaza Strip early on Saturday but caused no casualties, a Palestinian security source said.

The strikes hit a Hamas observation post in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, an unidentified target near Gaza City and open ground near Deir El Balah in the central part of the territory, the source said.

An Israeli army statement mentioned only two strikes, against “underground targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the northern and central Gaza Strip.”

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, ruled by Islamist movement Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.

And since March 2018, regular protests and clashes have erupted along the border of the blockaded coastal enclave.

At least 305 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza or the border area since then, the majority during demonstrations and clashes.

Seven Israelis have also been killed in Gaza-related violence over the same period.