Home | News    Tuesday 14 January 2014

S. Sudan’s Machar claims seizure of oil-rich capital, army denies rebel advance


January 14, 2014 (NAIROBI/JUBA) – Rebels in South Sudan on Tuesday claimed they seized the strategic town of Malakal, the capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile state in the northern part of the country, despite government denial.

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South Sudan’s former VP Riek Machar addresses a press conference (Getty)

Speaking exclusively to Sudan Tribune from his base in South Sudan, the former vice-president, Riek Machar, said his forces recaptured Malakal town at around 10am, adding that they were now in full control after flushing out pro-government forces.

“Our forces have recaptured the state capital Malakal this morning and are now in full control of the town,” Machar confirmed.

The rebels, according to its leader, also captured 500 AKM rifles, 30 RPG-7, 90 PKM, several military vehicles and one tank from the army.

He explained that his forces retook Malakal after taking control of Baliet county, one of the few counties inhabited by the Dinka ethnic group. This group, according to Machar, are yet to surrender to his forces, who reportedly control most counties of the oil-rich state.

Machar further disclosed that Melut and Renk were the other Upper Nile counties not yet under the control of his rebel forces.

He said in the battle for control of Baliet on Monday, the SPLA Sector II commander, Gen. Johnson Gony Biliu, narrowly escaped from the battle as pro-government forces were reportedly driven back to Malakal before they allegedly lost control of Malakal on Tuesday.


An official from Upper Nile state government, however, condemned Tuesday’s attack by armed groups loyal to Machar, saying the army remains in full control of the oil-rich capital, contrary to Machar’s claims.

“As the government , we condemn in the strongest term possible this barbaric act to destabilise the state. There was no reason for violence behavior, and I would like to tell our people that our gallant SPLA forces remain ready and committed to defend this country and provide protection", Phillip Jaden, the state information minister told Sudan Tribune.

“What you have heard about Malakal was propaganda. It has not been captured. I am talking to you from Malakal town. What happened was that the white army attempted to attack the airport this morning, but they were repulsed”, he added.


The spokesperson for South Sudan army (SPLA) confirmed the clashes between rebels and the army in Malakal, but dismissed Machar’s claims that his forces controlled the strategic oil-rich town.

“Yes, there is a fighting in Malakal”, Aguer told Sudan Tribune by phone. He also said the SPLA had made significant advance towards Bor, the Jonglei state capital and that it was a matter of time before the town fell into government hands.

"Our forces are marching on Bor. There has been very heavy fighting since Monday," Aguer said.

But a seemingly confident Machar told Sudan Tribune that government forces should “forget about recapturing the Jonglei state’s capital, Bor, and instead think about the fate of the nation’s capital, Juba”.

The South Sudan rebel leader claimed the country’s capital was “being besieged by his forces from different angles”.


Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson of the United Nations Secretary General confirmed reports of heavy fighting between pro and anti-government forces in Malakal on Tuesday, saying nearly 20,000 civilians had sought refuge at its base.

"Stray bullets are reported to have landed inside the UN base, wounding internally displaced people who had sought shelter there. The UN Mission says it is treating dozens of patients for wounds at its hospital," Nesirky said in a statement.

He also calls on all the parties to respect the integrity of UN installations as the mission continues to protect civilians across the country. As many as 65,000 civilians are reportedly sheltered at UN bases all over the country due to the violence.

More than 200,000 people, the UN mission said, drowned on Sunday when a boat in which they traveled capsized in the White Nile River between Malakal and Lelo in Upper Nile State.

"The civilians were reportedly fleeing fighting in the area", the UN official said, adding that the mission was seeking to verify reports of casualties involved.


The rebels, according to the ex-vice president, were advancing towards Juba, and that his forces on Monday engaged in heavy fighting when government soldiers reportedly launched another offensive against rebel positions on the Juba-Bor road.

“Our forces on Monday repulsed the government’s troops at Gut Makur area and pushed them back south of Mangala toward Juba. We are determined to capture Juba soon,” said Machar.

The rebel leader described Monday’s fighting on Juba-Bor road as “one of the fiercest” battles out of the 11 offensives his forces repelled since Bor’s recapture from government forces nearly two weeks ago.

“They involved a big number of soldiers backed by six Ugandan helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy weapons including B-30,” he said, adding, “yet they were defeated and pushed back”.

The SPLA spokesperson, however, denied the rebels’ claims that they had captured Mongalla, a strategic area on the place on the river Nile, located between Bor and Juba.

“It is not true. The SPLA forces are currently north of Mongalla,” Aguer said, but disclosed that another fight took place in Rajaf, south of the country’s capital between rebels and forces loyal to government.


Machar also told Sudan Tribune that the SPLA “badly lost” to his forces on Juba-Yei road, another new front only 12 miles south of Juba, which he said was closing on the capital.

He said the SPLA launched the offensive onto rebel forces along Juba-Yei road, a day after an army general, Marac Akoon, was killed in an earlier fighting on Sunday.

“At least seven SPLA military vehicles were captured or destroyed, 120 AKM rifles captured, leaving remnants of the government’s soldiers to retreat back to Juba,” claimed the rebel leader.


Meanwhile, Machar further said his forces, after “tactical withdrawal” from the Unity state’s capital, Bentiu, were now organizing an assault to recapture the town “soon”.

The former vice-president also revealed that the “forced rebellion” on 15 December was gaining momentum and opening up multiple fronts, saying the military situation would “soon shift against Salva Kiir and his forces.”

Maj. Gen. James Koang Choul, the defected division four commander in Unity state, on Monday also vowed he would “soon” recapture Bentiu allegedly from the joint SPLA and Sudanese rebels of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).


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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 14 January 2014 22:15, by Ankh

    Tables are turning.

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    • 14 January 2014 22:33, by Garang Deng

      Dear citizen of S.Sudan
      They children who where suffered in UNMISS camp are now playing and danceing in Malakal city. All Gonrial or Majority Stupid are run alway from Malakal ,
      every one are free!!!!!! free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!free!!!
      Democraticy Farce Oyeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Oyeee!!!!
      Dr Machar Oyeeee!!!!!!!!!!!! Malakal fredom Oyeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

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      • 15 January 2014 02:50, by Thyinka

        Yeah, Riek Machar’s is truly democratic farce, not force. He will be destroyed soon.

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    • 14 January 2014 22:52, by Tong dut

      Museveni is the only helper for Kiir, soon Kiir will run to uganda for hiding.

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    • 14 January 2014 22:56, by Tong dut

      Where are equatorians? dont help Dinkars, they forgot you long time ago, How many generals do you have equatorians? Leave dinka, Nuer war for them.
      Soon, you will lead those gengengs.

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      • 15 January 2014 04:50, by Mi diit

        Philip Aguer and his reporters are born to lie. Malakal was captured since Tuesday morning. Can Philip Aguer go to Malakal now and be shown on TV to prove his claims? I guess not because he would be captured and shown a prisoner of war. Soon Juba will fall and Kiir will run like rat to Kampala, or else get caught by his long beard.

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        • 15 January 2014 04:54, by Mi diit

          Incompetent Kiir and Aguer should forget about Bor for life. They should now think about Juba, Juba, Juba. The 24 hours of Aguer to recapture Bor are overdue by one week now. Ahahahahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...........Juba will soon fall!!! Yei-Juba road closed. Mundri-Juba road closed. Soon Juba-Nimule road will close and so is Torit will fall. Reap what you sow dumb Kiir!!!!

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          • 15 January 2014 05:16, by Mi diit

            BBC reporters in South Sudan are either bias or cowards. When Kiir’s forces control a town they rush in there to report the capture on the ground. Now that Machar’s forces recaptured Malakal, they are not seen in Malakal to report the rebels victory. BBC, don’t be partial in this war. Tell the truth all the time!!! Or do you fear the government which expelled Al Jazeera TV for telling the truth?

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            • 15 January 2014 06:24, by choldit

              the communication in the whole Upper Nile is down from the time SPLA-Dr. Machar took over the regional city. It has been that way when the city was taken from tribal militias-Kirr b4. The tactic is to deny access of info to govt fighters so that they shldn’t desert their frontline like UPDF did the day b4. The media have no access to the whole Malakal. UNMISS reported on bbc

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            • 15 January 2014 06:42, by Majongdit

              Mi Diit,
              Which Juba are you talking about? The Juba you left?
              Riek has no forces at all. His soldiers that defected have been finished. He has tribal underage children only.
              The destruction of the Nuer future moves on and on.

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            • 15 January 2014 15:39, by Realist

              The reason BBC don’t report Machar’s forces recapturing Malakal is because Malakal was not recaptured in the first place.

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          • 15 January 2014 09:40, by Bungachier 50

            Dr. Machar! don’t learn lies from the Simple Bush of Three Weeks. Why always claiming that you captured this and that. Why don’t the SPLA one day say they kill Mr. X and Y and they captured Mr. V and Z. Stop! rumor mongering if you want to be a true Leader.

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        • 15 January 2014 06:31, by mathem jech amer

          Mi diit
          Vultures very happy since yesterday feeding on your guys, pls ask more to come to Malakal so that they are finished and crashed once and for all.This is a good a step to reduce your numbers so that in the future not to claim you are majority, you will soon be like Murle in numbers.Pls I encourage u to continue figjting to reduce your numbers

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        • 15 January 2014 07:15, by Tutbol

          Mi diit,
          Instead this psychopath called Riek Machar surrenders or kills himself so that S Sudanese can pick themselves up, heals each others & reconcile each us others as brothers & sisters; you continue to show that your Riek Machar will reconcile all S Sudanese through coups, rebellions & murders. Something that will not happen in S Sudan through Riek Machar...

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          • 15 January 2014 07:29, by Tutbol

            You people claimed to be wanting president Kiir out of power, But your Riek Machar failed to start in Warap state where Kiir, the seat of govt S Sudan holder hails from. Instead you people with your Riek Machar started your Rebellion in Jonglei, Unity & Upper Nile states where the wounds of your Riek Machar 1991 atrocities against S Sudanese civilians have not yet healed....

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            • 15 January 2014 07:44, by Tutbol

              You people with your Riek Machar claimed to be bringing Democracy to all S Sudanese while at the same murdering innocent Dinkas & their civilians in Jonglei, Upper Nile & Unity states & even other tribes’ civilians that have nothing to do with your Kiir presidency that your Riek Machar so badly craves. If l were you people & your madman Riek Machar; i would be telling the world that...

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              • 15 January 2014 07:52, by Tutbol

                " i want some of parts of Unity state, Upper Nile state & Jonglei state to be differently part of Nuer Kingdom rules by Ngundeng anointed Riek Machar, if at all that may be possible. But i doubt it is possible; than lying to the whole world that, i wanted to rule all S Sudanese while at the same time murdering them"

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    • 15 January 2014 05:23, by Bentiu son

      Bravo Dr Machar,when you speaks the hope for democracy,human rights,freedom of expressions/movements n good governance return.Yes,go a head Sir,the whole nation is behind you till our badly desire democracy,federalism,rule of laws n responsible government are prevails across the country. We will fight Salva Kiir’s Guelweng militias n his mercenaries from Uganda n JEM/SRF till their demises

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    • 15 January 2014 06:26, by mathem jech amer

      Liers again
      I am now in Malakal, which full control you are talking about, government is in full control.Many rebels surrendered yesterday complaining that they have been in the bush for 3 days without food & water.Many of them killed, reminants came back this morning thinking they will get access to market & banks but they will still be defeated within one hour.

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      • 15 January 2014 06:44, by Majongdit

        That’s great Mathem! I always trust you on Malakal.

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    • 15 January 2014 11:30, by Johndumo14

      Oh yes Riek Machar the real war is by mouth -parpaganda in the news,but on the ground is diffirent,you don`t value the lives of your tribe,you dream of become a s.sudan president ,do you think the nuer people are bullet proof? Do you know realy how many nuer soldiers have lost their lives including civilians? One day you will be hanged like saddam Hussen of Iraq,time will come. You realy mean war!

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    • 15 January 2014 20:56, by Bravo Nuer

      Malakal is already under Machar forces and Maj.Gen. Gat-hoth Gatkuoth became the acting State Governor. Maj.Gen Sadam Chayuot Manyang became the Cdr of EastBank Div.1 Cdr and will clear the remnants Salva Kiir loyalists from Paloch upto Renk and from there he will be basing in Renk.Maj.Gen.Dor Manjur WestBank Cdr Div.7 he will base in Owaci.

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    • 16 January 2014 01:40, by Hardlinner

      Lets be factual here tribalists. What is unfolding in south sudan is general disaster to civilians and their properties. Both kiir and riek must retire and give way to civilized individuals who care more about civilians lives that their own political interest. Violent will never bring any development but rather it would cause more dedestruction like what we have seen in bor, bentiu and malakal.

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  • 14 January 2014 22:48, by Ankh

    South Sudan is not for Nuer, Dinka or any one tribe in particular it is for all of us. This Nuer Dinka thing is nonsense.

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  • 14 January 2014 23:03, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Kim, if your king have all these power, why invite Uganda and Al-Bashir to help him in the fight? and follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1bDzJL99LY Why did the king send these delegation to Nigeria? Your King is depending on others, Hey! Do not trust others to protect your empire. soon you will see how things will turn out.

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    • 15 January 2014 04:43, by 4Justice

      God does not hear the prayers of the unrighteous, unjust and unrepentant sinners (Looters) but Satan does. The Synagogue Church Of All Nations is not a den of thieves. (Proverbs 15:29) The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

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  • 14 January 2014 23:10, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Cont. people in Juba are going to turn against the king when the war approach Juba. they will never let Juba or their properties get destroyed to protect Kiir. let him seek his escape route or face the music. Trust me, i hate to say this but your king is stupid man. Again let me tell you this, Equatorians are quit right now but, wait and see when the freedom fighter get close to Juba.

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    • 15 January 2014 06:31, by Hardlinner

      There is no way looters/militias will ever capture juba. The residents with their businesses knows very well that riek forces are only for one thing that is looting. These primitives will never achieve any thing in ss. If riek was hunting for power, why would he let his militias loot every town they capture. The ’food’ rebellion will never see any end meet.

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  • 14 January 2014 23:17, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Cont. Equatorians will never let juba get destroyed in protection of your king. Kiir had been preaching and revisiting 1991 incident to to convince Bor sons to fight and protect his empire. But guess what, they are now having second thought about this senseless war. soon, the King will be left on the rain. will the warrop militia be able to protect Juba and keep him in the power?

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  • 14 January 2014 23:26, by Knight In Shining Armor

    How long are you going to keep on blaming media for freedom fighters victories? al-jezeria first now Sudan tribune, what a shame. why don you people accept the truth and live with it? how long are you going to keep on blaming others for you stupidity. You think S. Sudan is your property and belongs to you only? Have you people ever conceive that, every South Sudanese have right in this country?

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  • 14 January 2014 23:32, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Cont. The national constitution gave absolute power to this uneducated person, and as if that is not enough, he want to make SPLM party constitution to be in the same way and all its members should submit to him as king (KIIR); what an idiot. Kiir is history Warrop, you better think of plan be if you have any.

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  • 15 January 2014 06:06, by dinkdong

    I don’t trust the government news any more.

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  • 15 January 2014 06:48, by Majongdit

    Does Machar have forces? No! He has underage children armed with AK47 in their thousands to sacrifice their lives terrible. I see no future for Nuer.

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    • 15 January 2014 07:23, by Malakal county Simon

      Majongliel/salve If Dr Machar has no army, how could he managed to captured both Bor and Malakal? and soon Bentui will be recapture, while Juba is under heavy besiege from democratic forces!!!! and you claimed that’s Dr Machar has no army? What’s a wishful thinking....

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      • 15 January 2014 08:48, by Mi diit

        If those you call underage children can kill your generals one by one, chase your adult army divisions plus Ugandan troops and capture your Mading Bor and now Malakal and match to Juba, then what is wrong with it?

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  • 15 January 2014 08:43, by Mapuor

    Malakal will never fall to traitors come what may;Mr traitors will die soon. He is suffering from Narcissistic personality disorder.South Sudanese are tired of Nyagaatism, tribalism and unjustified quest for leadership.

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    • 15 January 2014 20:55, by Bravo Nuer

      Malakal is already under Machar forces and Maj.Gen. Gat-hoth Gatkuoth became the acting State Governor. Maj.Gen Sadam Chayuot Manyang became the Cdr of EastBank Div.1 Cdr and will clear the remnants Salva Kiir loyalists from Paloch upto Renk and from there he will be basing in Renk.Maj.Gen.Dor Manjur WestBank Cdr Div.7 he will base in Owaci.

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  • 15 January 2014 17:22, by AUGUSTINO DENG

    All Nuer people in diaspora need to go and lick stupid Riek Machar ass. Dinka oyee.

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    • 16 January 2014 11:58, by Bentiu son

      Idiot AUGUSTINO DENG,which Dinkas are you proud with? You guys we do tell you that Jaang can’t face Nuer warriors in warfield without shielding yourselves with manipulated 62 ethnic groups,sellout Nuer boys n hired mercenaries like Ugandan Army UPDF,Sudanese rebels JEM,SRF,SPLA-N and Toboros nomads.I challenge you cowards/Jieng to face Nuer without backing up if you can.

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