Rebel forces in South Sudan say government troops attacked their garrison in a town in the north on Tuesday.
The rebel group has also threatened swift retaliation leading to fears of another full-blown military confrontation in the young nation.
Political rivalry between South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and former vice president, Riek Machar, sparked a civil war in 2013.
The fighting started this morning at 6 am (local time) and our forces managed to fight back the enemy this afternoon.
Although both signed a shaky peace deal a year ago, fighting has continued and Machar fled the country in July.
Kiir’s government on Tuesday asked Sudan and other states in the region not to let Machar launch a new rebellion.
Machar had threatened a return to the battlefield unless his demands needed to revive a peace deal were met.
The spokesman for Machar’s opposition group the SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO), Major Dickson Gatluak told Reuters that government forces had attacked a rebel garrison in Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, which lies near the boarder with Sudan to the north.
The town was a flash point town in the war that broke out in 1013.
“The fighting started this morning at 6 am (local time) and our forces managed to fight back the enemy this afternoon,” Gatluak said.
He added that the UN staff in the capital, Juba should evacuate the area to avoid potentially being trapped in any fighting.
“If the peace agreement can be revived then, we can go back to Juba, but if not then armed resistance is an option,” Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak told Reuters in Nairobi earlier on Tuesday.
He added that the government must reappoint Machar, let more troops return to Juba with him, allow the swift deployment of a regional protection force and scrap decisions taken since July.