Fresh clashes have erupted in South Sudan between government forces and former rebels, a month after deadly violence which threatened a fragile peace accord, local authorities said Tuesday.
The new fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and supporters of former vice-president Riek Machar near the town of Yei, more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) southwest of the capital Juba.
It began two days ago in Mugwo, south of Yei on the Kaya Highway, a key road link for supplies en route to Uganda, a local official said.
"There is insecurity on the road," Stephen Ladu, information minister for Yei River state, told AFP.
"Clashes started this morning in Kimba," southwest of Yei along a road leading to the Democratic Republic of Congo, he added.
The Kaya Highway is one of the main routes linking Juba to the outside world. The other key route, which leaves Juba to the south leading to Uganda, is also not entirely safe, according to refugees and drivers who have taken it recently.
Several days of fighting in Juba in early July killed at least 300 people, prompted over 60,000 to flee as refugees and threatened a fragile peace deal.
The accord was signed in August last year to end a civil war which started in December 2013 and had already killed tens of thousands and displaced some 2.5 million.
In recent weeks, after the deadly fighting in Juba, other clashes were reported between government forces and former rebels not far from the capital and in the northern town of Leer, although details have been scarce because of the security situation.
Former rebel chief Machar fled Juba after last month\’s clashes there, and President Kiir named as his successor the minister for mines Taban Deng.
Last Friday the East African bloc IGAD announced that South Sudan\’s government had unexpectedly accepted the principle of a regional intervention force to support some 12,000 UN peacekeepers already in the country.
Discussions are under way with Juba on the mandate of the new force, the deployment of which must be approved by the UN Security Council in a vote expected before the end of next week.