Home | News    Thursday 30 November 2006

13 killed in clashes between SPLA and a militia in S. Sudan’s Malakal

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Nov 29, 2006 (MALAKAL) — At least 13 people dead and several others injured during a clash in the capital of Upper Nile State, Malakal, yesterday between the SPLA and the militia loyal to Gabriel Gatwick, better known as "Tanginya,".

The dead include four SPLA soldiers, six militiamen and three civilians.

A SPLA source told Sudan Radio (SRS) in Malakal that the fight started following the alleged shooting of two SPLA soldiers by gunmen in civilian clothes. The source claims the gunmen were part of Gatwick’s militia.

The SPLA says it responded by attacking Gatwick’s position, forcing him and his men to take refuge in the Sudan Armed Forces barracks in another section of Malakal town.

The SPLA, under the command of Lt Kwac Gak, was later reinforced by two battalions from the Dulayb Hill area and says it is now in control of the town.

Sudan Armed Forces troops have been confined to their barracks, according to Lt Gak. It was not possible to reach Gatwick or any Sudan Armed Forces commander for their version of events, the radio said.

A high-level Government of Southern Sudan delegation is expected from Juba to investigate the incident.

UN forces have being seen evacuating UN employees and international NGO staff from Malakal.

Before this clash, in what is perhaps a related incident, there was an alleged attack on the life of the Pangak county commissioner which resulted in a night time curfew for the people of Malakal.

Pangak county commissioner Maluit Wic, who resides in Malakal, told the radio on Sunday 26 November that gunmen attacked his house last Friday. He says four people from his household were injured in the attack.

He alleges that his rival for the position of commissioner, Gabriel Gatwick, popularly known as Tanginya, is behind the attack, assisted by some Sudan Armed Forces soldiers.

In response, Gatwick said he had no involvement in that attack.

He described Wic’s claim as a plan to confuse the public, saying that the commissioner is trying to take attention away from his inability to pay the salaries of county employees.

Gatwick also accused some SPLA soldiers in Jonglei state of fueling the conflicts in Pangak county. He appealed to the president and vice president of southern Sudan to continue dialogue with all armed groups in southern Sudan for a lasting solution.

The government of Upper Nile has declared a night curfew for all residents in Malakal from 10 pm to dawn as a result of the attack on the commissioner’s house.

Malakal, is the capital southern Sudan’s Upper Nile State. Upper Nile is potentially the main oil-producing region in Sudan.

The region, however, is largely secured not by the regular army, but by southern militias, predominantly Nuer, whose allegiance to Khartoum has been a source of much instability in Upper Nile, compared with other regions in southern Sudan.

The militias have had historic rivalries with the largest ethnic group in southern Sudan, the Dinka, and among themselves. The rivalries have, over the years of conflict, been exploited politically.

(SRS/ST)

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