Sunday, March 22, 2015

South Sudan Rebels Repulse Multiple Attacks By Gov’t Forces: Spokesperson
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 20, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar said on Friday they had managed to repulse multiple attacks by government forces in Unity and Upper Nile states where heavy fighting had been reported in recent days.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune, the rebel faction’s newly appointed spokesperson, Colonel Lony T Ngundeng, said government forces had been attacking their positions since Tuesday, but had since been pushed back and the area remained under rebel control.

According to Ngundeng, the South Sudanese army (SPLA) sustained a number of casualties after rebels repulsed attacks in north-east Upper Nile state bordering Ethiopia from the Pagak side.

Similar attacks had also been repulsed in Unity state capital Bentiu, the rebel official said.

He claimed that some government soldiers took shelter at a UN compound after being overrun by rebel forces.

“They acted to implicate us that we are the ones attacking the UN camps,” he said.

Ngundeng also accused the government of repeatedly violating a cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

He claimed that rebel forces are simply defending their positions from government attacks, warning that the armed opposition group would launch a serious offensive unless the SPLA halted its attacks.

Fighting between the two SPLM rival factions has recently intensified after peace negotiations aimed at ending the more than 15-month-long conflict collapsed earlier this month.


Ngundeng further alleged that the South Sudanese government has continued to bring in foreign fighters, including Rwandan nationals, to beef up its fighting forces.

He claimed the government was using oil money to hire foreign mercenaries, most recently from an Ethiopian rebel group believed to operate along the Ethiopia-South Sudan border.

“Our oil money is being given away to foreign troops by [president] Salva Kiir because he doesn’t have forces enough to confront us,” he said.

According to Ngundeng, there are currently more than 7,000 Uganda troops on the ground both in Jonglei and Upper Nile states who he said are fully participating in military action.

Rebels also claim that Sudanese fighters from the Darfur region are also fighting alongside the SPLA.

Meanwhile, Ngundeng has denied that the rebel faction is receiving support from foreign forces.


The rebel official further claimed that large number of prisoners of war, including some foreign fighters, have been captured during clashes in various states.

Ngundeng said the POWs are being well treated in accordance with international law on armed conflict, adding that the opposition group was ready to handover the POWs to the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the agency had failed to turn up to collect the prisoners.

He said foreign fighters are being held as proof for the international community that Juba was using foreign fighters.

He also accused the government of killing captured rebel fighters, saying statements by government spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth that POWs were being well treated were false.


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