Former President Jimmy Carter has brokered a two-month cease-fire between Sudan's Islamic government and southern rebels. The two sides have been locked in one of Africa's longest and bloodiest wars.
The cease-fire, which was to take effect at midnight Tuesday, was announced by Carter and Sudan's military leader, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir. In announcing the truce, Bashir offered rebels a general amnesty if they lay down their arms.
About 1.3 million people have died in the 12-year war or in famines produced in part by the fighting, which has pitted the Islamic government against Christian and animist southern rebels.
Carter, on a nine-day visit to Africa, said he sought the truce to allow health workers into southern Sudan to try to eradicate the Guinea worm parasite. The parasite causes hives, vomiting and diarrhea, and victims can die if infection or severe dehydration occur.
Peace talks between the government and the rebels have not produced results, and numerous cease-fires have been broken. But Sudanese leaders have said publicly that they are committed to talks to end the fighting. The cash-strapped Muslim fundamentalist government spends more than $1 million a day on the war.
Earlier Tuesday, government planes dropped eight bombs near the village of Waat, 500 miles south of Khartoum. It was not known if there were any casualties.