South Sudan rebels say army razed town, using foreign fighters

Rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said government SPLA forces and fighters from the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement – a rebel group from north of the border – had destroyed the northern town of Leer on Saturday, massacring women and children as they fled. An army spokesman said he had not received any reports of fighting in Leer, where the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last week more than 200 of its staff had been forced to flee because of growing insecurity. The government accuses the rebels of flouting the ceasefire signed on January 23. The claims and counter-claims came as east African ceasefire monitors began to arrive in South Sudan, seven weeks after violence erupted in the capital, Juba, before spreading across the world’s newest state. "(President Salva) Kiir’s forces burned down the whole of Leer town and entire surrounding villages," Koang said in a statement. "The latest destruction of Leer town in Unity state has no strategic, operational or tactical importance, but mere need for psychological satisfaction." Koang said the Ugandan military, which gave air and ground support to the SPLA as it battled to recapture rebel-held towns before the ceasefire, had swollen its ranks […]

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