At least 17 civilians have been killed and several others injured in clashes between two rebel factions in South Sudan's border town of Yei in the southwest of the country, the police said on Tuesday.Police spokesman Daniel Justine said the latest fighting between the main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army-In-Opposition (SPLA-IO) and National Salvation Front (NAS) in the border town of Yei has also caused mass displacement of civilians into the bushes in the area, Xinhua reported."We regret the loss of lives of our people at a time when the country is in full gear of peace implementation, it is very painful," Justine told Xinhua in Juba.He said local authorities and national government are supporting the displaced population with food assistance, saying the army has been told to be on high alert to protect the lives of civilians in the area.Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO deputy military spokesman, blamed NAS forces loyal to General Thomas Cirilo Swaka for attacking their base in Minyori and Logo in Yei area respectively.
"On Monday, the forces of the National Salvation Front attacked our position in Yei killing five civilians and injured dozens of others," Lam said in a statement."This is a direct declaration of war by the forces of General Cirilo against the signed revitalized agreement since he refused to sign it in September," he added.Lam also accused the government troops based in Mboro, Wau State in the western part of the country of constant offences against his faction in Ngisa, Tado, and Ngoku since the beginning of this month, an allegation denied by a South Sudan's army spokesperson.
"These attacks have been premeditated and planned by commanders of the regime in Juba to widen their territory and deny any establishment of cantonment sites in the area," he stressed.The fighting comes after President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar inked in September the revitalized peace deal mediated by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African bloc.