By Denis Dumo
JUBA (Reuters) – A South Sudanese rebel group said it killed eight soldiers in the south of the nation on Tuesday, underlining the fragility of the oil-rich east African country after a partially implemented peace deal was signed last year.
Government forces attacked fighters from the National Salvation Front, led by renegade former General Thomas Cirillo, early in the morning at Lo’bonok in the Karpeto region of Central Equatoria State, said a statement signed by the group’s spokesman, Suba Manase.
The statement said the attackers included fighters from a larger former rebel group led by Riek Machar, which signed a peace deal with the government in September.
The agreement has only partially been implemented because the government said there is not enough money to disarm and integrate the rebel fighters into the army.
A military spokesman for the government said he could not reach officers to confirm the attack.
“We have communication difficulties with the government area commander,” Lul Ruai Koang told Reuters.
Civil war broke out in South Sudan in 2013, two years after it became independent from neighbouring Sudan. The conflict – marked by extreme sexual brutality and the abduction of young children – plunged parts of the country into famine and sparked Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
(Writing by Katharine Houreld, Editing by William Maclean)