January 20, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese army (SPLA) claims that it seized Malakal, the Upper state capital Monday has been dismissed by rebels loyal to its former vice president Riek Machar.
- SPLA soldiers sit at the back of a pick-up truck in Malakal, Upper Nile state January 12, 2014. Malakal (Photo Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
The army spokesperson, Col. Phillip Aguer said government forces were in “complete” control of the town, located 497km northeast of the South Sudan capital, Juba.
"The SPLA forces have taken complete control of Malakal town. We have defeated the rebel elements that fled into disarray”, Col. Aguer announced Monday, without elaborating.
But James Gatdet Dak, the press secretary for Machar, told Sudan Tribune Tuesday that, “Malakal town is under the firm control of the pro-democracy [rebel] forces according to Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth, who is in charge of the town”.
“He [Gen. Gatkouth] said an attempt to recapture the town by the pro-Kiir SPLA forces was thwarted and the government’s forces were beaten back yesterday [Monday] afternoon”, he added.
UN CONFIRMS CLASHES
The UN mission in the country said heavy, involving small arms, occurred between the army and rebels close to its Malakal base.
Martin Nesirky, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said 32 civilians and two contractors, who sought shelter, were injured when a bomb landed inside their base, destroying its hospital as well.
“The Mission once again condemns any fighting taking place nearby its bases and calls on all parties to respect the integrity of UN installations and the safety and security of civilians taking refuge inside the bases and all UN personnel,” Nesirky said in a statement.
The Secretary General had earlier issued a statement in which he demanded that all parties to the conflict respect the sanctity of its mission’s protection sites.
Meanwhile, the mission said it was currently protecting 22,000 civilians in Malakal, with an additional 70,000 civilians being protected by peacekeepers in eight bases within the country.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 494,000 people are internally displaced while 86,100 have fled South Sudan to neighbouring countries.