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South Sudan admits losing top level officers in Malakal battle

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February 21, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s government has admitted losing several of the top level military officers in the latest battle over the control of Malakal town, capital of beleaguered Upper Nile State.

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A Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier, who was wounded in renewed fighting, arrives for medical attention at a clinic in the IDP camp in Minkamen, Awerial January 22, 2014. (REUTERS/Adriane Ohanesian)

Located some 497 kilometres north of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, the town is one of the country’s key oil producing areas which shares direct border with neighbouring Sudan from which the new nation seceded in 2011.

Despite a ceasefire deal signed on January 23 between rebels and the government on February 17 there was a fresh armed confrontation between soldiers loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir and armed elements allied to the former vice- president, Riek Machar.

Senior military officers in a series of interviews with Sudan Tribune on Friday that the rebels entered Malakal town after some sections of the South Sudan army (SPLA) abandoned their positions.

"We came to know some of our colleagues have deserted their positions when the enemy appeared in control of some parts [of Malakal] and areas initially held by some of our comrades and started advancing towards our positions. This was how some colleagues of different ranks, soldiers and senior officers were caught and killed", a senior military officer told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

The officer, who did not want to be named, is currently being treated for wounds sustained in the fighting for control of Malakal at the military hospital in Juba. He named Brigadier Garang Tong Atak, known locally as Garang–Awertoch, in his home state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, as one of the top level military officers killed.

"Comrade Garang is one of the senior officers who have lost their lives. Oh, he was a great and skilful military officer but that [is] what happened. When a country is thrown into such crisis, best men and women take the risk in the interest of the nation", the officer told visiting family members while being helped to sit up right on his bed.

Western Bahr el Ghazal State police commissioner, Major General Akot Deng Akot, confirmed the loss of the man he described "a true comrade in arms" and accomplished officer during his entire life while serving with the SPLA.

From 1983 until 2005 the SPLA was a rebel group which fought the Khartoum government until a 2005 peace deal, which allowed for the 2011 referendum on South Sudanese independence.

For the last nine years it has struggles to make the transition into a national army, with most soldiers still loyal to their local commander rather than national leaders.

"Comrade Garang- Awertoch was a distinguished and an accomplish officer. He never failed any mission and assignments given by the leadership since joining the SPLA. He was one of our best officers the leadership has had at the time. That was he never missed any assignment and this explains why he was in Malakal", Akot reportedly told a group of mourners on Thursday in Wau town, capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal.

Daniel Akol Diing, a state government chief whip in Northern Bahr el Ghazal also expressed his condolences over the death of the officer, describing also him as “a great man” but that the deceased “died defending the constitution of the country”.

This is the second time the people of Northern Bahr el Ghazal have lost a prominent figure serving in the army on the side of the government. Brigadier General, Akoon Marac, also a son of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, who was commanding SPLA forces in Yei River county, Central Equatoria state, was killed in January, when he fell into an ambush laid by the rebels on the Juba-Yei road.

A Sudan Tribune reporter in Juba who visited the military hospital in Juba observed a pile of military attires of individual soldiers soaked with blood as a result of gunshot injuries.

It appears as if those who evacuated from Malakal with serious injuries were senior military officers.

The conflict began on December 15 when members of the Presidential Guard began fighting each other in disputed circumstances. Machar denied allegations that he had attempted to stage a coup but is now leading loose coalition of defected soldiers, military officers and armed civilians are demanding a change to the current system of government.

The President’s opponents have accused Kiir of becoming increasingly dictatorial in the two years since independence and claim that he attempted to use the conflict within the army on December 15 to eliminate political opponents.

(ST)

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  • 22 February 05:59, by omoni jr.

    damn,
    Salva kiir killed a lot Dinka for nothing but to maintain him in power.

    repondre message

    • 22 February 06:22, by Hardlinner

      Those officers wouldn’t have died if it won’t because of traitors on government side. Those traitors must be remove from battle field and replace entirely by dinka spla. Kiir should also priority arming gelweng to support spla. If nuer rebels can mobilized and arm their civilians, dinkas should also do the same to safe the guard nation from savages/nuer.

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    • 22 February 06:34, by Mapuor

      This war is a just war which must be fought at any cost.Condolences to the family of great martyr Brig Garang Awertoch.Aweil people are great people who never betrayed South Sudanese.Nyagaats of Riek Macar,Nyandeng Chol,Taban Deng, the Jallaba bastard and illiterate mother fucker Gadet must be defeated at any cost.SPLA OYEEE.Panda oyee Kiir Oyeee ALLUTA CONTINUA

      repondre message

      • 22 February 21:19, by Ross

        Baliet youth were armed and also Meluth youth are armed so why don’t they do their part. Nuer are defending their ethnic group and tribes that Kiir and his fellow Dinka inted to get ride of them as happened in Juba. just wait in Bhar el Gazal they are coming to you.

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    • 22 February 06:38, by Gat Gan Kiir

      Let their soul rest in Hell! Hell! Hell. I told you from the beginning that no stone will be left unturned. Nuer believe in revenge, whenever you kill their sons or so, they must hunt you for years until you got kill. There will be no stable in south Sudan until we kill twice the number of Nuer who were murderous in Juba. Wec e wecda. I solute democratic forces for job well done.

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      • 22 February 07:53, by mathem jech amer

        Dinkas should remove Salv Kiir and replace him with another person either Elias Wai or Mobuto Mamur or any other strong SPLA soldier.People are dying because of him and he is not ready to fight.He stopped soldiers from following them to Nassir saying there is ceasefire, where is it now, what about that useless state of emergency which has no meaning

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    • 22 February 07:56, by mathem jech amer

      I advised all soldiers from Bar el Ghazal to go back and defend only their region because they can not just come and die for nothing, they are not allowed to fight but told to defend themselves only—this is useless leadership—rebellion is rebellion—why should Nuer be mixed with loyal soldiers again—please Equatorians withdraw

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    • 22 February 11:39, by Tong dut

      Let SPLA KILL Kiir,or not they will finished soon.
      What are you waiting for? Dinkar Kiir and his warrap Ugandan most be kill out of sudan.

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    • 22 February 14:39, by Lotodo Awino Odug

      Rest in peace Gen Garang, this war will drag on now. if it was not of that stupid ceasefire. you could be alive to day.had we move on from Malakal to Longachuk and from Bor to Akobo, this war would have finished within two moons[two months] according to Ngundeng.

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  • 22 February 06:09, by Tiger

    Riek days are numbered,just watch out.

    repondre message

    • 22 February 06:21, by Bolman

      just watch what, did you even realizing that Kiir did mistaken by isolated Nuer community

      repondre message

  • 22 February 06:18, by Bolman

    let them died until it reached Mr Kiir’s home Town gorial that where Kiir may feel the mistakes he did against his own Citizens Nuer Innocence Kiir must regret what he did to his own fake voters

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    • 22 February 06:32, by Hardlinner

      You nuers are cancer to south sudan. If kiir can not handle you, he should step down allow malong awan to deal with you. I’m Pretty sure he can do effect job to eliminate nuer rebel ones for all just like he did to messiria.we are tire of letting nuer destroy ss and killing innocent civilians. They must all be disarm. We liberated this nation and will not allow it to be destroyed by nuer.

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  • 22 February 06:18, by J P Puok

    everybody’s days in this conflict are numbered brother

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  • 22 February 06:36, by Mapuor

    This war is a just war which must be fought at any cost.Condolences to the family of great martyr Brig Garang Awertoch.Aweil people are great people who never betrayed South Sudanese.Nyagaats of Riek Macar,Nyandeng Chol,Taban Deng, the Jallaba bastard and illiterate mother fucker Gadet must be defeated at any cost.SPLA OYEEE.Panda oyee Kiir Oyeee ALLUTA CONTINUA

    repondre message

    • 22 February 06:54, by Wicdail

      Mapuor,
      What are you talk about? I have told you that more generals will follow, unless, Kirr and M7 thinks twice before it’s too late. Anyway, we want to know those other generals who died in Malakla with Garage. Our big concern is for the civilians who have been caught in the middle; dying with crossfire, hungry and diseases.

      repondre message

  • 22 February 07:00, by Majongdit

    My sincere condolences to the family of Garang Awertoc. Garang died a hero. This war has been forced on the country by Dr. Riek Machar. We never have accepted to fight this rebellion like this before. One again, Bahr el Ghazal must give its children for the defence of truth and constitutionalism in our country. This war needs to be fought in the same scale we fought the last North-South war.

    repondre message

  • 22 February 08:18, by Predicted

    Gelweng Enjoyed killing innocent nuer civilians in Juba. Now when they faced the Nuer white army of Jikany in Malakal...they ran for their life after seeing UPDF, JEM, and other Kiir’s mercernaries defeated in front of their eyes. They ran for their life’s even when they recieved air support with Jet’s bombing and Helicopters trying to stop the nuer warriors from Killing all of them.

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  • 22 February 08:20, by Predicted

    Kiir Mayardiit and Gelweng militia fucked with the wrong tribe. They have never seen war like this. good thing some of them survived malakal...so they could go back to tell the news to other dinkas who don’t know what it is like to face the deadly nuer army. Once UPDF leaves...we’ll really see where Kiir and Gelweng can run after they are chased out of warrap.

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    • 22 February 09:32, by Diversity

      Pathetic, how would you admit your death when you started killing civilians as if you don’t die. Each and every supporter of the regime is a walking dead!

      repondre message

      • 22 February 12:14, by Konkooc

        Dinka are killed while Kiir is saying there is a stupid ceasefire which is not respected by hungry nuer rebel. now the whole Dinka need to search for these nuer gang inside their counties. why always Dinka of defensive not offensive.
        "nuer may win a battle but not War"
        give a chance to Mazlum Battalion in Akoka,Maluth,Baliet and Renk. we will fuck nuer soon in Malakal upto thier counties.

        repondre message

  • 22 February 19:07, by Majongdit

    TRUE. NUER CAN WIN A BATTLE BUT NOT WAR!

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  • 22 February 20:28, by Kiir

    Dinka, are you not coming to Malakal to bury Gen Garang? Gen Abraham Jongor was killed no Dinka bother to bury him. Don’t insults all nuer including your supporters.

    repondre message

  • 23 February 05:53, by tiger

    Dear brothers, war of words is sometimes helpless, this war is wrongly taken as between Dinkas and Nuer but that is not so. This war can be fought by Dinka civilians for only one month without army and defeat all Nuer but now we called this as just political war. Example is 1991 Naser faction, when Dinka Agar defeated Nuer about 4 times until Riek surrendered.

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