February 24, 2014 (JUBA) – The spokesperson for the South Sudan army (SPLA) claimed on Monday that its had forces killed nearly 200 rebels who launched attacks on government positions in Gadiang, about 90km north of the Jonglei state capital, Bor, on Sunday.
- The South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson, Phillip Aguer (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
“Forces of [former vice-president] Riek Machar were repulsed, leaving behind them 173 [rebels] killed,” Philip Aguer told Sudan Tribune by phone, adding that the army lost 10 soldiers while 16 were wounded.
However, rebel spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang disputed the army’s account of events, claiming figures released by their opponents were exaggerated.
“We did not lose that number of servicemen in our side,” he said, without providing further details on casualties, adding that government forces had instigated the attack.
Earlier claims that rebel forces were in control of Gadiang could not be independently verified by Sudan Tribune due to the remoteness of the area.
Philip Thon Leek, a lawmaker representing Duk County in the South Sudan assembly, blamed the rebels for “turning their anger on villagers after being defeated by government forces” on Sunday.
“They are destroying buildings, schools and [Duk] county headquarters,” Leek said in an interview on Monday, adding that two civilians were killed during Sunday’s attack.
“They torched houses of the local residents. They (rebels) were intentionally trying to reinforce their front in Gadiang, which was dismantled yesterday. And I think when they heard that, they bent their anger on the local people in Duk County,” the MP said.
According to the lawmaker, at least 43,000 villagers were forced out of their homes in Mareng, Ager and Payuel payams (districts) as fighting continued on Monday.