May 5, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The opposition forces led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, have claimed to have regained full control of the strategic Unity state capital, Bentiu, in less than 24 hours after its recapture by the government on Sunday.
- SPLA soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, on December 30, 2013 (Photo Reuters/James Akena)
“Our forces this morning [Monday] at around 9am have regained full control of Bentiu town,". Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
“The pro-Salva Kiir soldiers and their foreign allies suffered heavy casualties and are being pursued northwards,” he added.
The South Sudanese rebels accuse the Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement of taking part in the offensive. But, JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal once again in a statement extended Sunday to Sudan Tribune denied these “fallacious allegations”.
The strategic town has exchanged hands several times. If confirmed this would be the third recapture by the rebels.
Dak said in Nasir town, a previous stronghold of the rebels, the opposition forces were engaging the government troops and surrounding them, adding that “it was a matter of time before they were equally flushed out”.
He further saidd that the rebels were carrying out a counter-attack in Renk county and were closing in towards the town after claiming to have captured Gerger and Jalhak military posts near the town.
He accused the government of violating the cessation of hostilities agreement as peace talks was resuming in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
On Sunday, South Sudan defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, said that SPLA forces were reacting “in self defence” to attacks by the rebel fighters on their positions.