JUBA, Sudan, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Skirmishes last week between rebel militia forces and the army in South Sudan killed at least 197 people, a leading official in South Sudan said.
Fighting broke out last week along the de facto border between North and South Sudan. Pagan Amum, the secretary-general of the ruling party in South Sudan, said the conflict last week left 197 people dead, Bloomberg News reports.
The clashes involved members of the South Sudan army and forces loyal to breakaway Gen. George Athor. Athor last year staged an uprising against the government in Juba after losing a state election but agreed to a cease-fire in time for a referendum on secession last month.
Nearly all of the voters who cast the ballots for a referendum for an independent South Sudan voted in favor of the measure.
The referendum was part of a comprehensive peace agreement brokered in 2005 that ended a bloody civil war in the country.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said he would honor the outcome. South Sudan becomes an independent state in July.