Home | News    Wednesday 18 May 2016

South Sudan armed men clash with Sudanese rebels in Bahr el Ghazal

May 17, 2016 (JUBA) - Sudanese rebels of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), backed by government forces in Western Bahr el Ghazal region, have clashed with armed men allegedly allied to the opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), capturing a military site previously held by the opposition forces in Deim Zubeir area.

Undated picture extended to Sudan Tribune on 28 April 2015 by the Justice and Equality Movement showing their fighters during a training exercise

Several security and military sources from Raja, the administrative headquarters of the newly created Lol state, attributed the clash to a contest over the site the Sudanese rebels have been using as their hideout in the region.

But local officials claimed it was a ploy by government forces in the area to deny the presence of armed opposition forces in the region in fulfillment of the directive given by the army’s top command.

“There is no clear information about casualties. I just got the information at around 8:30am today. I was told yesterday of security tension which was building up in the area after receiving a report from the local people about unusual activities of two different forces operating south of Deim Zubeir area,” a Lol state minister anonymously told Sudan Tribune.

“They (local people) were talking of two armed groups. I don’t [know] their identities but it is believed to be Sudanese rebels and armed youth group from the area who have been attacking vehicles traveling between Raja and Wau. I don’t know they are operating under whose leadership because Riek Machar has no forces in Bahr el Ghazal and they have not declared the name of their organization. They have been operating there for more than a year,” explained the minister.

A military intelligence officer from Wau, the headquarters of the SPLA’s fifth infantry division, also confirmed in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that government forces and Sudanese rebels had managed to seize control of a site known to have been used by armed men following fierce clashes Tuesday morning south-west of Deim Zubeir.

"Our gallant forces and friendly forces have also progressed towards other sites in the area in pursuit of these criminals and close the site once and [for] all. This is unbecoming. They are creating insecurity and causing unnecessary loss of lives and properties on the way between Wau and Raja,” he claimed.

The military also accused local people in the area of collaborating with armed groups by not giving them any information about their hideouts.

“The local people are not giving out the information, yet they know there are armed groups living with them. They only complain when they have killed some people or when they have stopped any public transport and loot it. How will our forces know if they have no information about them,” he said.

The spokesperson of the government forces did not release any statement about the latest development in the region and no leading government officials have commented on the matter.

Also, officials of the SPLM-IO could not be reached for comment.

In Khartoum, the Justice and Equality Movement - Dabaja expressed its concern over the fate of its members detained by JEM and called on the international peacekeeping forces inthe region to intervene to ensure their release.

In statement extended to Sudan Tribune about the incident, JEM-Dajbajo Political Secretary Nahar Osman Nahar said "Gibril Ibrahim bears personal responsibility for the safety of detainees".