October 30, 2016 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese armed opposition faction led by Riek Machar has captured at least 99 government soldiers loyal during the recent fighting in Greater Mundri area in Western Equatoria region, according to opposition leader’s spokesperson.
- South Sudanese SPLA soldiers in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)
Machar’s official spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that up to 99 soldiers of the government were captured this week when the opposition forces overran Kadibe military base in Mundri county.
Commissioner of Mundri East County on Thursday confirmed to Sudan Tribune that Kadibe was briefly captured and controlled for two days by the opposition forces, but he said they were eventually dislodged by government’s forces. He also accused the rebels of allegedly abducting up to 500 school children.
Dak however denied their forces abducted school children, adding civilians fled the area in fear of government’s forces who targeted them for allegedly supporting the opposition faction. He said civilians including the elderly, women and children voluntarily fled to areas controlled by the opposition forces for protection.
He has however revealed that they did capture nearly a 100 government soldiers during the brief capture of Kadibe, further revealing that some are recruits.
“Our troops have captured 99 soldiers loyal to Salva Kiir’s regime. Our gallant forces under the overall command of General Wesley Weleba captured them when they overran their military base of Kadibe in Mundri,” Dak said, adding that a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition were also captured and were carried away.
He added that 49 of the captured government’s soldiers were new recruits in the area who were also undergoing training at a training center in Kadibe.
The opposition leader’s spokesman further claimed that their forces also overran a police post in Yambio county and took with them all the ammunition in their store.
Officials in both Mundri and Yambio confirmed the clashes in Kadibe and in Yambio but could not confirm whether the soldiers and ammunition were captured by the opposition forces. Both Mundri and Yambio are located west of the national capital, Juba.
Fighting, he explained, also occurred around Lainya county, south of Juba, in Central Equatoria, as well as in Jerusalem area, east of Juba, in Eastern Equatoria, where the opposition reportedly overran the area.
SPLA-IO TO CAPTURE JUBA
Dak also said fighting has been ongoing in many locations in Upper Nile and Unity states between rival forces, saying it is a matter of time before their forces will capture both Malakal and Bentiu, the respective capitals of the oil producing states in the country.
He also claimed their forces may soon move on to Juba and capture it together with Bor, capital of Jonglei state, if no political solution is found to revive the peace deal in the country.
“If there will be no political solution to resuscitate the peace agreement in the next few weeks, then our forces are ready and will be directed by the leadership to capture Juba and Bor to restore law and order and usher in peace and stability in the country,” he said.
Fighting has been escalating across the country following the renewal of violence in the capital, Juba, on 8 July between rival forces loyal to President Kiir and his former deputy, Machar.
The opposition faction has called for “resuscitation” of the peace deal they signed with the government in August 2015, or opt for popular armed resistance if the government refuses peace and continues to attack the opposition’s controlled territories across the country.
The government says it is comfortable with the new First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, saying he is cooperating with President Kiir.
Numerous clashes have occurred in Equatoria region which hosts the seat of the national government, with increasing reported ambushes on Juba-Yei, Juba-Nimule and Juba-Bor roads. Dozens have already been killed on the roads.
The two sides seem to be preparing for an all-out war in the coming weeks or months as they reportedly stockpile weapons and ammunition and reorganize forces, with movements of rival troops detected in the country.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 to end 21 months of civil war which erupted in December 2013 is threatening to collapse following the renewed upsurge of violence in the world’s youngest nation.