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SPLA top general in Malakal wounded by rebels: sources

February 19, 2014 (JUBA) – The top general of the South Sudanese army in Malakal was wounded on Tuesday when the rebels overran the strategic capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile state.

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Rebel forces loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar are claiming to be in control of Malakal after advancing on the oil-rich capital of Upper Nile state on Tuesday (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

General Johnson Ulony was shot in the neck, rebel sources said. Another government official who preferred anonymity also confirmed to Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday that the general had sustained a neck injury but managed to escape.

Gordon Buay, spokesperson of the former rebel South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A) which is now fighting alongside the government forces against rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar, told Sudan Tribune that Ulony is wounded in the leg not on the neck. He further said that the general "is now being treated in Juba".

Ulony, a Shilluk by tribe, has been leading the military wing of the opposition leader, Lam Akol, who has recently joined the government was part of the delegation President Salva Kiir sent to Addis Ababa to negotiate with Machar’s SPLM/A-in-Opposition.

The rebels have maintained that they have taken full control of Malakal since Tuesday.

"It is confirmed. Our forces have taken full control of Malakal since Tuesday", Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

He further said the remnants of the "pro-Kiir forces" were on the run into the bush together with the state government officials who did not join the incoming "pro-democracy forces".

Col. Philip Aguer, spokesperson for the South Sudan army, on Tuesday described the attacking force as a ’White Army’ of civilians mobilised in Ulang, Nasser and Maiwut of Upper Nile state, and Ayod and northern Waat counties in Jonglei state.

OIL WORKERS FLEEING FROM THE OILFIELDS IN UPPER NILE

Meanwhile South Sudanese and foreign oil workers are reportedly fleeing from the oilfields in anticipation of the rebels’ attacks to seize control of the resources.

Minister of Petroleum in Upper Nile state, Francis Ayul, said oil workers from Adar in Paluj have been evacuated to Juba, the nation’s capital, in fear of imminent attacks.

"I think they fear because of a report that the oilfield will be attacked on the 21st which is tomorrow", Ayul was quoted as saying by local media.

He, however, said government troops were already in the area to repulse any attack by the rebels.

The rebels however said they were not on the offensive against the oilfields, but warned of a strike back should the government attempt to attack their defensive positions around the oilfields.

"Our forces will not attack the oilfields. They will however strike back should the government troops and their foreign allies attempt to widen the radius of territories they control around the oilfields by attacking our defensive positions", Dak further said.

(ST)