January 5, 2014 (NAIROBI) – A South Sudanese army (SPLA) general was on Sunday killed by forces loyal to former vice president, Riek Machar as the army battled dissidents currently in control of Jonglei state capital, Bor.
- Generals of South Sudan’s army celebrate during official independence day celebration on July 11, 2011 (Getty)
Sources told Sudan Tribune that Gen. Abraham Jongroor Deng, a senior military officer and "some" soldiers died in a rebel ambush in Pariak, about 35 miles south of Bor.
A military source in the SPLA on Sunday also claimed several other soldiers were killed in the battle, describing the incident as a “disaster.”
Phillip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson on Sunday admitted that an army general was “seriously wounded” during the SPLA’s attempt to gain control of the rebel-held area.
ARMY DISMISSES REBEL CLAIMS
Another fierce fighting also erupted on Sunday when the army attempted to move and recapture Bor, but were pushed back by rebels.
A rebel source, however, said they “lured” the SPLA forces into ambush about 25 kilometers from Bor, adding that government troops bypassed them while coming through Eastern Equatoria state.
He said SPLA forces didn’t pass through Juba-Bor road, which rebels claim to have closed as they match to Juba, the nation’s capital.
“Our forces near Juba knew they were coming and so we trapped them by letting them move deep without noticing our presence along the road sides and in the forests. We then closed them in from the behind. They were defeated and their remnants were running back to Eastern Equatoria state as we have closed the Juba-Bor road,” said the rebel source.
The rebels also claimed that another force moving on the River Nile from Juba to Bor was also destroyed on Sunday, with many boats sunk or captured, while their remnants reportedly retreated back to Juba.
The number of casualties was not yet known as the SPLA did not comment on the latest development.
Meanwhile the rebels further insist that they were getting closer to the country’s capital, a claim the government dismisses as mere threats.
The army spokesperson told reporters in Juba on Sunday that the rebel-held town of Bor would fall in to government hands "within the next 24 hours".
He said some soldiers defected from their barracks in parts of the country’s Central and Western Equatoria states, but dismissed claims of weaknesses in the army.
“There is no sign of collapse in the army", Aguer said, stressing that army defections were part of any conflict.
The fighting, which began as a misunderstanding between presidential guard units, has now turned into a tribal war fitting the country’s largest Dinka ethnic groups against Nuer; the second largest.