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Source: Radio Tamazuj

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said it is investigating who caused the Friday fighting in Bentiu in South Sudan’s Unity state in order to expose the violating party.

“The IGAD Special Envoys for South Sudan received reports from the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) on heavy fighting that ensued this morning in Bentiu from 6.20 a.m to 10 am,” read an emailed statement from IGAD, which is mediating peace talks in Addis Ababa and monitoring ceasefire violations.

“The IGAD MVM is currently carrying out investigations to establish details of the fighting which will expose the culprit, as continued violations of COH on ground continue to undermine the ongoing peace process in Addis Ababa.”

The regional bloc condemned the Bentiu fighting “in strongest terms,” and said it was “particularly dismayed” because the fighting took place “just days away from the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government summit meeting, and less than 48 hrs after the departure of the UN Security Council team that visited the region.”

IGAD and the UN Security Council have recently ramped up their threats of sanctions against leaders who violate the signed ceasefires or commit human rights violations.

However, neither IGAD nor the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) which also condemned the Bentiu fighting, mentioned the clashes in Ayod, Jonglei state that also took place on Friday.

“The Special Envoys also reiterate that military advances to gain more ground by any party will not achieve anything except to worsen the already catastrophic humanitarian situation and to cause further devastation,” the IGAD statement read.

‘Deeply troubled’

UNMISS said that the fighting in Bentiu consisted of “heavy, sustained small arms and artillery fire…heard to the South East of the UNMISS Base in Bentiu.”

Toby Lanzer, officer-in-charge of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan said in an emailed statement that he was “deeply troubled” by the renewed fighting in Unity.

“I call on those responsible for today’s hostilities to refrain from any further violence, and to avoid any actions that hinder the protection or assistance provided by UNMISS and aid agencies, respectively,” he said.

The UNMISS statement added that 400 civilians took shelter at the Rubkona airstrip under protection of UNMISS peacekeepers. It also said that an artillery shell exploded near the UN base but there were no injuries.

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