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Upper Nile gov’t vacates capital after heavy fighting

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April 23, 2015 (JUBA) – Heavy gun battles resumed on Thursday in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, despite the deployment of more government troops.

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Soldiers from the South Sudan army (SPLA) patrol the streets in the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal, on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Charles Lomodong)

The resumption of fighting forced the state government to relocate, several officials, who included the deputy governor, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

The fighting which started Tuesday night and resumed on Wednesday involved the state governor’s guards against forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Johnson Olony, who became of part regular forces after integration into the army in 2013.

Olony was a militia commander between 2010 and 2012, when he fought under the banner of South Sudan Democratic Movement led by late George Athor Deng, who rebelled in protest of the result of 2010 elections in which he contested as an independent candidate for Jonglei state. He later decided with several other militia groups to abandon rebellion in response to the 2012 presidential amnesty.

Acting state information minister Gatluak Liphoth told Sudan Tribune on Thursday shelling had resumed between the fighters allied to governor’s Kun guards allegedly backed by armed Dinka youth on one side and those under the command of Olony supported by armed youth from his ethnic Shilluk on the other, forcing many civilians to seek sanctuary in the united nations camp.

“Fighting is continuing as I am talking to you. It is ongoing. The forces of Johnson Olony are shelling the town from the other side of the river. He has stationed his forces on the other side of west bank. He is shelling the residence of the governor, the market, the whole town,” the minister said by phone from Malakal.

“Everything else is being brought down. He is destroying Malakal for no reason and this is why people are asking us whether Johnson is still part of the government,” he added.

He said Olony’s forces had targeted the official residences of the governor, the state secretariat, sector commander and police commissioner, as well as military barracks and government institutions.

According to Gatluak, the deputy governor, ministers and other officials all fled Malakal.

UN CONDEMNS CLASHES

Meanwhile, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan said it deeply regrets the continuation of hostilities in Malakal, which resulted in to the displacement of civilians.

The mission said it received more internally displaced persons at its protection-of-civilians sites in the UN compound outside Malakal today. At the same time, the Mission is adhering to its policy of providing shelter to combatants who surrender their weapons and remove their military uniforms prior to entering one of its protection sites.

"A number of stray bullets hit an UNMISS vehicle and sanitation facilities used by its military peacekeepers earlier today [Thursday]", UNMISS said in a statement.

"Some mortar rounds also landed 400 meters outside the perimeter of its compound, and shelling took place near the installation of the Mission’s Bangladeshi riverine unit".

The mission, however, called on the belligerent forces to ensure the safety of all UN personnel and the inviolability of UN physical assets. It further called on the commanders of these forces to exercise restraint and immediately cease all hostilities.

(ST)

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  • 23 April 2015 21:31, by Knight In Shining Armor

    If the general Johnson makes another mistake to go back under Juba then he is done; Paul Malong will take care of him sooner or later.

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  • 24 April 2015 00:57, by Kim Deng

    Othere Jurs (Teet, Bar, Jabe, Chai, Nyam-Nyam...) were avdised to distance themselves from "Dinka-Nuer" war, but it seems some of them are not ready to take that path. I’m worry about those Jurs, who are going to be caught in between unknowingly.

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    • 24 April 2015 01:59, by Rommel

      Kim Deng:

      Why didn’t you reject the assistance of other Jurs and Arabs in your war against the Dinka in the 90s? Why did you accept the assistance of the SAF, PDF, Murahaleen, Arab pastoralists, Equatorial Defence force, the Bari dominated Popular Resistance Movement/Army, Mundari militia and the Shilluk under Lam Akol?

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      • 24 April 2015 08:34, by Mayom County Boy

        fighting all tribes in south Sudan is a problem from Dinka people , it seem remain Equatoria to be flush out like what was did to Nuer and shiluk .
        very soon Dinka Jaang will remain for nothing from their life be aware Dinka for what is going on currently !

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  • 24 April 2015 01:24, by lino

    What? Maj. Gen. Johnson took over the command in Malakal!!!

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  • 24 April 2015 07:25, by Eastern

    At this rate, South Sudan is rapidly heading to being shredded up into tribal enclaves! Lots of warnings were sounded earlier for the current war to speedily brought to an end to avoid treading down the path of one tribe against the other.

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  • 24 April 2015 08:19, by Juma El-Saidi.

    Am wondering where this Nation is heading, Shiluk and Nuer you must know that our first enemy in this planet are the stupid Dinka, How can ANIMALS lead people? Let us now unite so that this stupid regime of Salva Kiir Mayaradit must come to an end. Let them evacuate the capital and Johnson Olony continue fighting until the end.

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    • 24 April 2015 11:51, by Rommel

      Juma El-Saidi.:

      Yet another internet warrior comes out of the wood-work. You seem to think that the Dinka have uniquely benefited from Salva Kiir’s incompetent Presidency. South Sudan is the most oil dependent country on earth! 98% of our budget is oil derived. 85-90% of that oil is sourced from Dinka lands. Our lands contribute more to the budget than the lands of the other 63 tribes, combined

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      • 24 April 2015 11:52, by Rommel

        ..And yet the little infrastructure development that has taken place has been concentrated in Equatoria — away from our lands. We provided more divisions, battalions and martyrs than all the tribes combined. We lost over a million Dinka civilians. Far from being rewarded, we have been burdened by this ’government’.

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        • 24 April 2015 11:55, by Rommel

          I think it’s well beyond dispute that that South Sudan is being afflicted by nepotism, kleptocracy, insecurity and rampant corruption, however, I take issue with people trying to add a tribal dimension to this. The entire country is suffering from this nepotism, corruption and mismanagement. This is precisely why over a 100 people died of starvation in Salva Kiir’s home State in 2012...

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          • 24 April 2015 12:01, by Rommel

            The vast majority of the Dinka do not support Salva Kiir and would be inclined to remove him as part of a genuine national movement. People think they’re fighting the Dinka in this war. That’s not the case. They’re fighting select clans from only two [2] of the fifteen [15] Dinka sections. Salva Kiir has recruited people from his father’s side -Gogrial- and people from his mother’s side -Aweil-.

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            • 24 April 2015 12:02, by Rommel

              The people of Tonj [Warrap] and Lakes State are angry with Salva Kiir and haven’t joined this war. The Dinka of Greater Upper Nile have also not joined the war, and this is why Salva’s private army within the SPLA is only 15, 000 strong. He should be forced out... and an army of 150, 000 should be mobilized, trained and deployed.

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              • 24 April 2015 12:14, by Rommel

                I want Salva Kiir to leave, immediately, but he cannot be replaced by a *traitor* like Riek. I despise Salva Kiir for the shameful alliance that he has made with Uganda. There is no justifying this terribly dishonorable alliance. Salva has brought *shame* upon a people that lost well over a million of their own in a war infinitely more difficult, exacting and costly than this.

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                • 24 April 2015 12:18, by Rommel

                  Don’t make this tribal. We can endure hardship. We contributed the most divisions and martyrs. We endured being the primary target of Khartoum’s war designs and campaigns. We can endure [as we have before] losing well over a million people for a cause that we believe in. We have confronted infinitely stronger, smarter and more numerous enemies...

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                  • 24 April 2015 12:24, by Rommel

                    ..Make this a national issue and you may well succeed in removing Salva Kiir in a matter of months... make this tribal and any such war that you want to embark on will last decades. What is your tribal background? Can your tribe afford to lose a million of its members?

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