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S. Sudan army deploys more troops to Malakal amid intense fighting

April 22, 2015 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese army (SPLA) said on Wednesday it was deploying more troops from those initially dispatched to different positions outside state capital Malakal to contain ongoing clashes

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Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) sit on a pick up truck during a patrol in Upper Nile state capital Malakal on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Harrison Ngethi)

Major General Akuei Yak, commander of the SPLA’s division 7th in the area, said he has received a formal “go ahead” from the military leadership at the general headquarters in Juba to quickly contain the situation from “spiralling out of control” so as it doesn’t create instability and insecurity in the area.

“There is no problem. The situation is under control. We have received a go ahead from the general headquarters to deploy more forces from brigade 20 so that this situation is contained,” he said.

The area division commander said it was also not clear what sparked the clashes, stressing that the mission of deploying more forces to the town was to arrest the situation as the first priority.

“The mission for deploying more forces is to arrest situation first,” he said without giving additional comments.

Several State officials attributed the cause of clashes to a denial of entry of one of the guards of the state governor who was allegedly unwell access to Malakal Civil hospital for treatment by forces under the command Major General Johnson Olony, causing brawl between two forces.

Malakal civil hospital is in Hai-Jallaba, not far away from Hai-Madaria, which is where governor’s residence is situated. State information minister said forces under the command of Olony the road linking the main market with the hospital, denying one of the governor’s guards and several others.

It was unclear what prompted unilateral deployment of the forces and closure of the road. Unofficial reports also indicate that the several armed Dinka youth from neighbouring Akoka and Baliet have joined the clashes in support of gubernatorial forces, motives of which have also remained unclear.

However, the chairperson of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the state, Jok Dok Jok denied any involvement of the armed Dinka youth in the fight, confining it to regular forces.

“Some people in the media are not ashamed of the situation we are in and are trying to magnify this misunderstanding to the extent that these reports seem to portray this is a fight between the Dinka and Nuer on one side against their brothers and sisters in Shilluk community,” said Jok.

“They are even trying to connect it to a recent incident in which one of our senior military officers was accidently killed. I would like to state categorically that there are no relations between the two incidences. What happened yesterday was a result of misunderstanding within our forces,” he added.

(ST)

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