South Sudan rebel forces say government attack base, threaten retaliation



South Sudan’s rebel forces said the government on Tuesday attacked their garrison in the country’s northern town on Benitu, and have threatened to retaliate, fuelling fears of another full-blown military confrontation in the world’s youngest nation.

The country was on course for peace in a UN-backed peace deal that saw rebel leader Riek Machar return to Juba to take up the position of first vice president under President Salva Kiir.

Political rivalry between the two leaders plunged the country into civil war in December 2013, with Kiir accusing Machar, his then deputy, of plotting to overthrow his government.

Machar refuted the claims but went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

With the signing of the peace deal, Machar returned to Juba in March, but gun battles between forces loyal to the two leaders in July prompted him to flee again.

Regional states and the UN are pushing for the deployment of a protection force into the country, though the South Sudanese government is against this.

Confirming Tuesday’s attack on the rebel base, Major Dickson Gatluak, spokesman for Machar’s opposition group the SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) said his side will launch a retaliation against the government, Reuters reports.

“Our forces will be taking quick action against the regime in Juba,” he said.

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