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Unity State authorities deny that SPLA burnt 7,800 homes in Mayom

By Bonifacio Taban Kuich

May 28, 2011 (RUMBEK) - Unity state minister of Information and Communication Gideon Gatpan Thoar has rejected allegations the South Sudan army (SPLA) set fire to around 7,800 homes in Loath, Wanam and Bora bomas [districts] of Mayom County.

Thoar added that the allegations were baseless and a misinterpretation of reality on the ground by the County authorities.

On Wednesday 18 May Mayom Commissioner Charles Machieng Kuol told Sudan Tribune that 7,800 homes had been burnt down by the SPLA in fighting with militias in the area.

The SPLA’s Major. General Koang Chuol told Sudan Tribune last week that his forces had not burned homes. He said that damage to property was caused by cross-fire between the militias and the SPLA and had not happened intentionally.

Unity state officials deny homes were burned down by the SPLA but failed to specify of how many house burned down by the militias.

Reacting to the allegations on Saturday Thaor said, the SPLA forces in the state have been the vanguard and the protector of the people against barbaric attacks of militias in the area.

Thaor and many other southern officials accuse the Khartoum government of sponsoring militias, like those of Peter Gadet in order to destabilize oil-producing South Sudan ahead of its independence in July. Khartoum deny they back any of the seven rebel groups operating against the Government of South Sudan.

Thaor denied the SPLA had burned down whole villages in fighting last week with Gadet’s militia the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA). He claimed that it was the militias groups that had committed atrocities against the people of Unity state, particularly the people of Mayom County.

The spokesperson claimed that the SPLA defeat of the militias had forced the rebels groups to take revenge against the civilian population of Mayom County, burning down homes, destroying properties and commit atrocities under the pretext of cross-fire.

The militia further targeted humanitarian organizations and robbed them therefore, blocking humanitarian assistant on the process, Thaor said.

Thoar accused the militias of planting land mines in Mayom and Guit counties.

He said, the government of Unity state assures its citizens that as the elected government of the people it will never condone any atrocities in the state whatever the circumstances.

He said the Unity state government calls upon all citizens to unite in the face of tremendous challenges that South Sudan independence will bring on July 9. The region voted to secede in a referendum in January as part of 2005 peace deal that ended decades of conflict.

(ST)