Rebel fighters gather in a village in Upper Nile State in this February 8, 2014.(REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
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Rebel forces in South Sudan on Tuesday launched a major assault against the key oil-hub of Malakal, witnesses and officials said, as a ceasefire agreement with the government appeared to be in tatters.Aid sources said small arms fire could be heard inside the town after a dawn artillery battle outside the government-held capital of Upper Nile state. The government admitted that the rebels controlled some parts of the town.An aid source said rebels had launched "a very big, coordinated attack", and warplanes -- possibly Ugandan -- had been flying over the town in support of government troops.A government official attending peace talks in Addis Ababa accused the rebels of having consistently violating the truce.Rebel spokesman Hussein Mar Nyout said the rebels were acting in "self-defence".
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