January 25, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan army (SPLA) has denied it clashed with armed opposition forces under the leadership and overall command of the former vice president, Riek Machar. However the UNMISS confirmed the violence.
- South Sudanese SPLA soldiers in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)
Acting SPLA spokesman told Sudan Tribune he has no reports indicating government soldiers clashed with rebels but received reports of criminals and high way robbers stormed a village in Magwi county in Eastern Equatori with intention to loot from the civilians before running away when government soldiers arrive to the area.
“I have not received such reports. This is just another strategy by making propaganda to show that they are in the area. What I have learned is that there were criminals who entered one of the villages in Magwi County on January 22, 2017. Their intention was to loot from local population but they fled when our forces were alerted and went to the area,” said Colonel Santo Dominic when reached on Tuesday to comment on the matter.
The government military spokesman was reacting to a statement in which the spokesman of armed opposition claimed the positions of their forces came under attack in several places in Eastern Equatoria but they repulsed the government forces during a clash in which six pro government militiamen were killed.
The SPLM-Io spokesperson William Gatjiath Deng said government forces on Sunday morning they drove back a government force that moved from Magwi and attacked and burned down Acholi villages, including Licari, on Magwi-Pajok road.
“While still on their way to pillage to the villages and commit additional atrocities in the Magwi area, the SPLA-IO Anyanya division forces under the command of Major General Patrick Ohiti Chapuho ambushed them, killing six (soldiers),” he said.
He also claimed their forces in division 3 under Maj.General Tut Riik have regained control of Nordeng area under Nasir state in Upper Nile region, which government forces had allegedly taken from them last week.
“On the same Sunday January 22, 2017, more than 18 regime soldiers who attempted to attack the gallant SPLA-IO positions in and around Yei were ambushed. After the ambush, the gallant SPLA-IO forces under sector 8, division 2B pursued the ruthless regime soldiers toward Yei town”, he adds.
UN CONFIRMS CLASHES
However, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Wednesday that the UN Mission in South Sudan(UNMISS) received reports about clashes in Central and Eastern Equatoria provinces.
"UNMISS has received reports of fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition in Central Equatoria on Sunday. It is also following up on reports of civilians killed and displaced towards the border areas, he said”.
He added that the Mission has also received reports of clashes in Obbo Payam in Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria over the weekend and is seeking to verify reports of civilian casualties.