New fighting near South Sudan capital, violating cease-fire

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan’s warring sides are blaming each other for new fighting outside the capital that violates a recent cease-fire.

The fighting erupted Thursday evening between government and opposition forces less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Juba. The U.S. Embassy on Friday issued a travel warning for staffers barring unofficial movements in the capital after 7 p.m. until Monday morning.

Neither side made claims of deaths in the new fighting. The United States and others have warned against further violations of the Dec. 24 cease-fire, which was broken within hours.

“Enough is enough,” the U.S. charge d’affaires in South Sudan, Michael K. Morrow, told the United Nations-operated Radio Miraya. He said the U.S. was “actively” developing new tools to target those in South Sudan who get in the way of peace, following on recent sanctions.

South Sudan’s civil war is now in its fifth year, with untold tens of thousands killed. The December agreement was an attempt to revive a 2015 peace agreement after negotiations mediated by a regional bloc. Another round of talks is set for early February in neighboring Ethiopia, Morrow said.

South Sudan’s army blamed the latest fighting on Lt. Col. Chan Garang, who defected to the opposition last year. Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the cease-fire “has never been respected” and called on the international community to hold the opposition accountable.

Opposition spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel said the government was just trying to justify its own violations.

One local nonprofit leader, Edmund Yakani, called the fighting “shameful for us South Sudanese.”

In a statement, the executive director of the nonprofit Community Empowerment for Progress Organization said that “our warring parties never care about the stability of the nation more than their struggle for control of power.”