June 13, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese army (SPLA) fighters reportedly loyal to opposition forces seized an assortment of weapons after repulsing government forces in Western Bahr el Ghazal state, military sources said.
- Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar march in a village inside rebel-controlled territory in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state on 9 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
Several government and military officials told Sudan Tribune that Thursday’s incident, which occurred outside the state capital, Wau, caused panic among the area civilian population.
It is potentially seen as a security threat in the area, which has witnessed relative peace and stability, although it hosts dissident fighters from the army’s fifth division.
Neither the state government nor the government army spokesperson has issued any public statement in relation to the incident. Not even the army’s high command in Juba has reacted to what happened.
Observers, however, described the incident as the latest in a sudden flurry of accounts of what transpired in the wake of intensified operations by government forces to exert full control on the area.
According to a senior military officer who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, the rebels were in "complete" control of areas around Buseri, located south of Wau town.
The officer said six government soldiers have been confirmed dead and several other sustained injuries in what he described as “a surprise attack” on the scouting soldiers.
“Six comrades have lost their lives after falling into the ambush laid by the rebels. You know grass has grown tall in these places and this has made it difficult for our soldiers to scant around. They rebels have resorted to guerrilla tactics. They climbed up trees to scant around. That was how they managed to spot our soldiers who were in the area for reconnaissance”, the military source told Sudan Tribune Friday.
WEAPON DELIVERY MISSION
Ayii Ayii Akol, former member of parliament-turned rebel, confirmed the clash, claiming government troops carried out an attack on positions held by army defectors in the area.
“The information we have from the ground is that the government soldiers launched an attack on the positions of those officers and soldiers who were relocated to Bazia on the advice of the command and government in Juba," Akol said Friday.
"They stood their ground and in the process they managed to repulse the attackers and took control of several weapons and ammunitions”, he added.
The rebel official said the attack on their forces clearly demonstrates unwillingness by president Salva Kiir’s government to implement the cessation hostilities agreement the two warring parties signed.
“It was actually a mission delivering to our forces military supplies. They left behind weapons and ammunitions, which is a major victory for us but what message does it send to the region and the international community of the utterances of assurances of commitment to implement the agreement by the government of Salva Kiir when the forces under him continue to carry out these attacks", Akol said.
"It clearly shows lack of honesty and the region with the international community should not allow the government to continue to fool anyone", he added.
The ex-lawmaker further claimed government be held accountable for these "blatant" violations, which occurred less than 24 hours after the signing of the peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.