Photo taken on Oct. 16, 2016 shows South Sudan's government troops patrolling in Malakal town, South Sudan, after fresh clashes between government and opposition forces near the northern town of Malakal killed at least 56 people. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)
JUBA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The South Sudanese army and the main rebel group have accused each other of breaking a truce that came into effect on Dec. 24.
The cease-fire agreement signed between the South Sudanese government and several rebel groups on Thursday last week was brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc.
The truce asked warring parties to stop military operations and keep forces in their bases while calling for release of political detainees.
Lul Ruai Koang, Spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) told Xinhua Wednesday that rebels loyal to the country's former deputy president Riek Machar launched multiple attacks on government-controlled areas in northern and southern parts of the country between Dec. 22 and 25.
He said the rebels, known as Sudan People's Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), attacked the town of Koch during Christmas Eve and further carried out similar attacks in the regions of Kajo-Koji and Yei on Dec. 25.
"This is a very serious violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement because their intention is to capture more territory from the SPLA before the peace monitors arrive for verification," Lul said.
He said the SPLA would not go into offensive as they still respect the terms of the truce, urging the IGAD to investigate the latest escalation in violence across the country.
"It is our right to defend ourselves from hostile forces. So we call upon IGAD to investigate and do verification so that they know who violated the cessation of hostilities agreement," he added.
Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO deputy military spokesperson, however, accused the government of launching attacks on their bases in many parts of the country.
"Our forces repulsed the attackers and pursued them to their base in Kansuk where more than 20 of them lost their lives and several injured. Our forces also destroyed their store full of weapons and ammunition," Lam said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
The warring factions had previously violated several cease-fires since the conflict erupted four years ago.
In his Christmas massage, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir promised peace and stability in the war-torn East African nation in 2018.
South Sudan has been embroiled in four years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.