July 15, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government and rebels have again traded accusations of fresh violations of a January ceasefire agreement despite mutual assurances from both sides of their commitment to the deal.
- A soldier from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) walks away from a vehicle while on patrol in Juba on 21 December 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
Several government officials, including the national army’s (SPLA) chief of general staff, General Paul Malong Awan, has accused rebels of looting and killing civilians in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state’s Aweil West county.
At a briefing on Tuesday, Awan told defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk that defected soldiers from Northern Bahr el Ghazal’s Wau and Mapel had carried out looting in Mayom Akueng rel, a village between Nyinboli and Marial Baai before reportedly crossing the Sudanese border.
Awan said he had asked forces in the area to monitor the rebel movements, adding the security situation in the region remained otherwise calm.
“Apart from this the general security situation is OK. There are no other incidents we have received so far,” Awan said at the briefing.
Local legislators and officials from the area have also confirmed the incident, claiming several lives were lost on both sides during the clashes.
A state legislator from Aweil town told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that six people who sustained gunshot wounds in the clashes had been brought to Aweil civil hospital for treatment, adding that some remained in a critical condition.
“The state government is exerting all necessary efforts to provide maximum care,” the legislator said.
Deputy governor Salva Chol Ayat, who himself comes from Aweil West county, confirmed the presence of government soldiers who defected from Western Bahr el Ghazal state in April.
Ayat explained that the group of defectors had crossed into the area few days ago before moving towards the Sudanese border.
“Everything is not yet clear now. It is still developing. But what I can say, based on the reports we are getting from the people in the area, is that they have crossed towards the Sudanese border,” said Ayat.
Rebel official Ayii Ayii Akol also confirmed that government troops had launched attacks on defectors leaving from Mapel and Wau.
However, he denied the group of defectors were hostile, accusing government of forces of carrying out an attack to block them from crossing the Sudanese border.
“They (government troops) attacked them (defectors) so they acted in self-defence and they managed to cross [to Sudan]. On our side, we lost one comrade,” Akol told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday, adding several government soldiers had been killed.
In a separate development, rebel spokesperson for military affairs Brigadier Ruai Koang Lul claimed on Tuesday that government troops had attacked rebel positions from two directions in Unity state.
“A column of loyalist forces attacked our positions at Nhial-Diu payam (district) of Rupkoni county, whereas a second one attacked Guit county, all in oil rich Unity state,” he said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
“The forces that attacked our forces at Guit has been repulsed and is being pursued towards Bentiu town. Fighting is ongoing in Nhial-Diu,” he added.
Lul said government attacks on rebel defensive positions appeared to be increasing in intensity, extent and frequency.
“It looks like government troops are not bound by all agreements signed by [the] political leadership in Juba,” Lul said.