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S. Sudan to shut down mobile phone network in Malakal

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January 15, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan said on Wednesday it plans to shut down the mobile phone network in the border state of Upper Nile, after heavy fighting erupted on Tuesday between rebels and troops loyal to President Salva Kiir.

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Women carry their belongings as they head towards the UN base in in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s oil-rich Upper Nile state on 12 January 2014 where government and rebel forces have been battling for control of the town since last month (AP)

It was not initially clear whether some communication facilities like mobile phone towers and generators may have been damaged in the fighting, with presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny confirming that the shutdown was for security purposes.

“It was for security purposes. Anywhere in the world governments have the power to do this, if there is insecurity it can shut the network. You cannot leave the network up in a place where there are rebels. You have to cut the network where they are”, he said.

Ateny’s statement, broadcast on state-owned radio and television networks, confirmed reports from multiples sources from oil-rich Upper Nile that mobile phone service had been cut in the entire state, with the exception of Renk and Paloch.

Speaking at a news conference, Ateny accused rebels of sparking widespread panic among the civilian population, which he said lead to the deaths of more than 200 people, who died trying to flee the fighting after their boat capsized.

“People were drowned because of unnecessary panic caused by the enemies of the state. The town underwent several attacks before they were repulsed, explained Ateny.

Forces loyal to former vice-president-turned rebel leader Riek Machar claimed to have recaptured Malakal, where fighting has been raging since Sunday. The South Sudanese army (SPLA) denies the claims.

Malakal, which produces the bulk of South Sudan’s oil, has already changed hands twice since violence erupted in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, last month following clashes between rival factions of the presidential guards, with the conflict quickly spilling across other regions.

The latest round of fighting comes as peace talks aimed at ending hostilities continue in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, without result.

(ST)

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  • 16 January 11:44, by hellonearth

    wow what lies, Malakal was captured. its good not to fool others because it will catch up it you like it has done so Wek

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    • 16 January 12:00, by Gat Gan Kiir

      Spoke criminal Ateny is talking nonsense, how come you shut down the network while the State is not under your control? You better to talk about juba or else where. Gen. Hoth Gatkuoth is currently in charge of my state, Kun Puoch is on hide somewhere in a hole nearby! he will be caught a life and fuck like Gedaffi

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      • 16 January 12:11, by mathem jech amer

        Gat Gan Kiir
        Get your own rebel network to communicate not the one for the government you don’t need. You will be fucked soon, nobody will escape back to Nassir or whatever place you came from. My advance condolence goes to innocent civilians just collected by force to come and fight useless war they know nothing about.

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        • 16 January 15:50, by Mi diit

          Ateny Wek Ateny is a little liar somewhere in Juba and will be captured alive soon. The fact of the matter is that the defeated pro-dictatorship forces of Salva Kiir dismantled the phone network when they knew they were losing Malakal. Also they planned to dismantle the network in all the 11 counties under the rebels control except Renk and Paluj.

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    • 16 January 12:06, by Hardlinner

      We can accept lies from riek that malakal have been capture. But the truth behind lies is that, riek lies to his faceless militias as way boosting their morale. The thieves and murderers will never rule south sudan.

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    • 16 January 12:08, by mathem jech amer

      That was "tactical withdrawal" they want to finish them without anyone escaping, today or tommorrow morning deadly assault will be launch, government forces are just 6 km away from Malakal, Makal Shilluk area.

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    • 16 January 12:21, by Bentiu son

      The Guelweng militia called Ateny Wek Ateny should refrain to misleads the public.Ateny is one eyed man who turn to be liar after his appointment as Press Secretary of Dinka genocidal President Kiir Mayardit.Malakal is now fully under control pro-democracy forces loyalties to Dr Machar.Now Lt Gen Gathoth Gatkuoth is now a new Governor of Upper Nile Region

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      • 16 January 14:06, by Nyesi Ta

        Ateny Wek Ateny used be a columnist of what he called ’Straight Talk" on ’The Citizen New Paper.On his straight talk articles, he was a devout critic of Kiir’s administration, & then his articles were full of sense, now I am left wondering why he decided to quit the straight talk that would be a vehicle to shape the government.

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        • 16 January 14:14, by Nyesi Ta

          Besides, I considered Ateny the mouthpiece on the media to inform & educate the public on issues within Kiir’s gov’t. Unfortunately, he disowned the public and joined Kiir to tell lies about the state of affairs in our country. He has been driven to do these by tribal tendency & money. Shame on you Ateny.

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      • 16 January 20:05, by Below the Law

        Bentiu son
        We need to be below the law.
        what is the centre of your struggle as all your supporters are not generally South Sudanese but Nuer? Look at your supporters postings nothing national. Look you are struggling appointing governors, is that what you are fighting for? Look you are destroying property and lives and mobilising one tribe to fight the government, is that how democracy is attaine

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  • 16 January 16:02, by Gatluak

    At Ateny Wake, u were lucky when I was almost shot your gadamn ass in Juba few days before 15/12/2013 when u reversed ur car in a middle of the road almost hit my car. I wish I shot u dead if I knew this would happen. I will still get u soon. Foolish Dinka. U forget how Dr. Riek rescued u when Dr. Garang arrested u. U are just a dead body.

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