JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan's government and rebel forces should immediately adhere to a permanent cease-fire, the United States, European Union, Britain and regional states said Thursday, calling continued conflict in the troubled nation "senseless."
The statement issued by the State Department is the first such call for a permanent cease-fire since deadly fighting erupted in South Sudan's capital in July and rebel leader Riek Machar fled to Sudan and called for armed resistance.
The collective statement, which also comes from a group of East African countries, condemned Machar's call to arms.
Civil war broke out in South Sudan in late 2013, and the violence has never stopped despite a year-old peace deal. Hundreds have died in fighting around the country since July. Tens of thousands have been killed overall.
In an interview with The Associated Press, government spokesman Michael Makuei denied recent fighting and said the government is adhering to a cease-fire called during the July chaos.
Spokespeople for Machar were not available for comment.
Machar's recent call for armed resistance was echoed by war calls from other armed groups that are part of a constellation of militias in South Sudan.
Reports of fighting in the country continue. The U.N. refugee agency has said ongoing government military operations have trapped around 100,000 people in the southern town of Yei amid reports of women, children and babies being hacked to death.
And renewed fighting in oil-rich Unity state has forced people to flee their homes and aid workers to relocate, the U.N. office for humanitarian affairs said Thursday.