April 17, 2014 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese army (SPLA) on Thursday said it repulsed a rebel attempt to overrun Renk, another strategic Upper Nile state town located at the North-South Sudan border.
- Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) sit on a pick-up truck during a patrol in Upper Nile state Malakal on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Harrison Ngethi)
“The SPLA Sector Command in Paloich has repelled a rebel assault on Renk town this evening. They (rebels) attacked the town around 4:00PM on Wednesday from South West of the town," said Maj.General Garang Mabil.
"The fighting raged for more than four hours," added the military officer who is part of the SPLA command forces in the area.
Sporadic gunfire, multiple residents told Sudan Tribune, was heard in areas south of town, while details of the attacks remained sketchy. Military sources, however, claimed several civilians and military personnel sustained injuries during the attack.
Local authorities said the attack caused panic among civilian population, forcing thousands of civilians to flee and spend the night in bushes after the town was stormed.
Renk is more 970km north west of Juba and just 35km south of Sudan border.
The attack on Renk added another pressure on the government troops struggling with the insurgency to assert full control of the Upper Nile region, especially areas where oil is produced. The attack came after government lost Bentiu town, the Unity State capital on Tuesday and has since been fighting running battles with the rebels within the outskirts of the town.
Government troops in Malakal town, the Upper Nile state capital, said on Wednesday they were involved in clashes with rebel forces in Doleib Hill, located some 16 kilometers south of the town, in addition to the clashes in Renk town.