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South Sudan warns of military escalation in Unity state

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September 24, 2015 (JUBA) - Authorities in South Sudan’s oil producing state of Unity have expressed "grave concern" over the continued escalation of violence in the area despite rival leaders in the conflict affirming their commitment to full implementation of the internationally backed and brokered regional peace deal with the armed opposition.

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Displaced people walk after arriving by river barge from Bor to Awerial in South Sudan’s Lakes State on Jan. 2, 2014 (Photo AP/Ben Curtis)

Unity state minister of youth, culture and sports, LamTungwar, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that the state administration was supportive of the government position to implementing the peace deal but warned that a flare-up in fighting was threatening to dismantle an already fragile cease-fire declared in August by the rival leaders, president Salva Kiir and first vice president designate Riek Machar.

“There had been serious violations of the peace ceasefire by the rebels. Our bases had been attacked by the rebels in Duar and it has been going on for the last three days and our gallant SPLA forces have been repulsing them with losses. This is an eye opening to the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authorities on Development) and partners that peace is being abused now,” said Tungwar.

The former singer, turned government official this year, warned failure to take swift corrective measures to contain the situation could unravel the peace and would return the country to square one instead of consolidating efforts to implement the deal.

"IGAD needs to address this with urgency; otherwise such activities would undermine the implementation of the peace agreement and could lead to full-scale hostilities once again,” hewarned Tungwar, further adding, the situation could get out of control any time.

At least 62 fighters were reportedly killed after fresh clashes erupted last week in the area between government forces and armed opposition fighters outside the government controlled town of Bentiu, capital of Unity state.

Colonel Phillip Aguer, spokesperson of government forces confirmed in a statement issued on Monday that government soldiers have clashed with rebel forces in Duar, resulting in the death of at least 12 government soldiers and 28 others were wounded and found 50 dead bodies from the opposition sides.

According to Tungwar - the deadliest fighting seen in the area after the declaration of the ceasefire agreement - was set off by a large-scale rebel assault on the government-held area of Duar, about 150 kilometers north of Guit county headquarters.

The rebels, however, blamed the government forces for starting the attack in violation of the ceasefire, accusing forces loyal to president Kiir of attempting to recapture territories from the opposition fighters before an agreement could be reached at the military workshop in Addis Ababa on security arrangements.

Military sources said a relative calm had returned to the area by Monday and that situation was now “under control” after repulsing the attacks.

The two warring sides have always traded accusations depicting the other to have acted in violation of the deals which their forces have frequently violated, but the latest clashes have included the use of heavy weapons on both sides.

Observers and residents have reported seeing at least a dozen of government tanks moving northward from Bentiu town in the lead-up to the battle at the border areas with Sudan under the control of the rebel forces.

A relief worker in Parieng county, Unity state, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that some heavy weapons, which had previously been pulled back from the front line by the government forces to a military post in the area were now missing from where they had been kept, indicating that the government deployed them for attacks on the opposition bases.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 26 September 2015 14:22, by Padiet Deng Alony

    was that a relief worker or person spying on behave of rebel. Omer albashir is right when he flashed out ngo who were spying against his government. are you there to count the government tanks or for humanitarian mission

    repondre message

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