February 18, 2014 (JUBA) – Heavy fighting broke out on Tuesday evening in South Sudan’s Warrap state after two of its counties were attacked by anti-government forces loyal to ex-vice president, Riek Machar, a senior state official said Wednesday.
- Rebel leader Riek Machar talks on the phone in his field office in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State February 1, 2014 (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
“The attack started yesterday [Tuesday] in the evening, but until now we did not get any full details because the commissioner is there and forces are also engaged in that fight,” Warrap’s deputy Governor, Akech Tong Aleu told Eye Radio Wednesday.
He cited Tonj East and Tonj North counties as the two affected areas.
The senior official, however, said they had very little communication with authorities in these two counties attacked by the rebels, but confirmed fighting was still taking place in those areas.
“These new attacks were launched by the rebels based in the neighboring Unity state”, he noted, adding that hundreds of people had been forced to flee their homes in fear.
The spokesperson for South Sudan army (SPLA) was not immediately available to comment, but military sources confirmed the attacks in Warrap, also home to President Salva Kiir.
Another attack, in violation of a ceasefire deal, occurred Tuesday in the oil-rich Upper Nile state with both the rebels and government forces claiming to control its strategic town of Malakal.
Meanwhile the United Nations in the country said it was deeply concerned about the fighting and reiterated the necessity for the parties to fully implement the agreements on cessation of hostilities and status of detainees.
“The parties must cooperate fully with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, which the United Nations is supporting”, a statement from the mission partly reads.
Overall, the UN mission said it was currently protecting 75,000 civilians in a number of bases around the country. Also, at least 740,000 people have reportedly been displaced in the country, with hundreds said to have fled into neighbouring Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia.