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Rebels claim five government soldiers killed amid fresh fighting in Unity state

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August 11, 2014 (KAMPALA) – Fighting is continuing in South Sudan’s Unity state despite the resumption of peace talks resuming between the country’s warring parties in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

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Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) on guard in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s Unity state on 12 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Rebel forces have been battling government troops in a series of exchanges over control of the oil hub capital of Bentiu.

The opposition groups led by former vice-president Riek Machar has also accused the South Sudanese army (SPLA) of launching another offensive against their positions in Rubkotna county’s Kaljak payam (district) on Monday.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Monday by satellite phone, Unity state rebel spokesperson Peter Riek Gew said rebel forces had repulsed an attempted attack by the SPLA on their position.

Gew said five government soldiers were killed and two rebel fighters injured in Monday’s battle in Kaljak, about 20km west of Bentiu town.

Unity state has been the scene of intense fighting between rebel forces and government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir since conflict erupted in mid-December last year, with Bentiu changing hands several times at the height of the conflict.

Gew has accused the government of failing to respect a peace deal brokered in January and recommitted to in May by the two parties, saying SPLA forces continued to target civilians and their property.

“We have been respecting the signed cessation of hostility since January 23 and 9 May, but the government and their allies have never given [a] chance to peace,” he said, calling on the international community to hold the South Sudanese government to account for ceasefire violations and atrocities committed against civilians.

“The intention of government troops was to loot [the] properties of civilians, which is against their mandate. We all know those fighting alongside with Kiir are militias [and] not the real army,” said Gew.

He blamed militia fighters from the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) under Mathew Puljang and Bapiny Monytuel and other tribal militias loyal to Kiir for attacking civilians.

He claims rebel fighters were forced to respond in self-defence after government militias began looting and attacking civilians.

“We had no intention to attack [the] SPLA, but we are only fighting in self-defence for our enemies. Our leadership has briefed us a lot not to launch counter attacks, but we are in high alert for any violation of the 9 May agreement,” said Gew.

He said Kiir has continually failed to control several militia groups fighting alongside the SPLA, including the SSLA, Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North, saying the groups were failing to respect the terms of the ceasefire deal.

“It is very unfortunate for president Kiir to control such forces with different commands,” said Gew.

In a separate interview with Sudan Tribune, an aid worker from Unity state spoke of hearing reoccurring gunfire Kaljak payam between the army and rebel fighters, but declined to comment on what sparked the fighting in the area.

“What I know [is that] Kaljak is under [the] rebels’ control and it was a surprise to hear heavy clashes erupted while the two group are for peace talks in Ethiopia,” the aid worker said on condition of anonymity.

Jak Khor, who has been displaced from his home and is now residing in Bentiu town confirmed to Sudan Tribune that fresh fighting had broken out in the area on Monday.

He told Sudan Tribune that the military presence had been beefed up over the past week, with a number of additional uniformed troops deployed to the area.

(ST)

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  • 12 August 2014 04:54, by Dinka-Defender-General

    Machar and his militias are attempting to put more pressure on Kiir to sign a accord so he’ll loot South Sudan’s money. We, the South Sudan are aware about their tactics or strategies. A shame on you Machar. Just wait to take the second Vice President seat or you will dead trying to rule South Sudan people. You’re too greedy to be a president.

    repondre message

  • 12 August 2014 05:22, by Kim Deng

    This Jungle (South Sudan) must be burned down to ashes rather than being called "Dinka Kingdom."

    repondre message

    • 12 August 2014 05:32, by Dinka-Defender-General

      Sorry Kim Deng. It is too late. Dinka emperor. Dinkas are coaching me to become second a president; however, I will give you freedom in my time. Future president DDG.

      repondre message

  • 12 August 2014 06:29, by padiit gaga

    Curse to those who do not want peace while a lot were suffering.

    repondre message

  • 12 August 2014 06:51, by wang

    I considered all govt loyalties in/at Nuer territories are dead persons…

    repondre message

    • 12 August 2014 07:37, by Madina Tonj

      Wang. If Riek Machar has violated peace again then, that will the be the end of it. Some of Nuers communities have acknowledge that, Riek Machar is betraying them and this is why Mayom County and Nasir County have rejected this second movement of Riek Machar. Come to Warrap State to see thousand Nuers civilians with their cows and they are now living peaceful with Dinka community in Warrap State.

      repondre message

      • 12 August 2014 07:53, by Dinka-Defender-General

        Thank you Tonj for telling the truth. If it was a war between Dinkas and Nuers why do thousand lived in Warrap and Wau? Do Nuers people ask themselves? When are they going to learn? We, the Dinkas are tired of Nuer attitudes toward. They must stop right before it gets too late. We tried to be peaceful, but Nuers are taking advantage of us for our kindness.

        repondre message

        • 12 August 2014 08:20, by Frak Cho

          Also in Lakes State - Rumbek, thousands of Nuers are living together with Dinka community in perfect peace.

          repondre message

          • 12 August 2014 08:38, by Dinka-Defender-General

            frak, thank you for giving us more facts. Nuers must accept these facts and consider our Dinkas communities to be peace loving,caring, people with pure hearts to other tribes even those who hates them for their kindness. Dinkas people never kill children and women, but Nuers do. They killed women, children, and those who are associated with Dinkas. This is crime against humanity.

            repondre message

        • 12 August 2014 08:29, by Malakal county Simon

          International community’s need to ask this coward presidentKiir this simple questions; why he foolish unwanted president keep breaching the cessation of hostility since January?? Or maybe he unwanted president lack control over his mecinaries foreign forces!!!!

          repondre message

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