March 26, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) – South Sudanese rebels of the SPLM/A In Opposition said on Tuesday their forces have advanced on Jonglei state’s Duk county after repulsing government troops and their foreign allies who had attacked their defence positions on Monday in the Greater Bor area.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the rebels military spokesperson, Brig Lul Ruai Koang, said that rebels had taken full control of the main town of Duk Padiet in Duk county after defeating the government forces in the area.
Duk Padiet town is north-east of Jonglei state’s capital, Bor, and strategic area for the defence of the state capital.
In Juba, the South Sudanese army confirmed the capture of the area by the rebels. He further said the fighters of the SPLM-In-Opposition launched their attack on Duk County on Tuesday.
“The rebels of Riek Machar attacked and overran Duk County yesterday at around 5:00pm. They are now in the area,” Aguer told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
This attack is “a clear violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, which they have never respected. The SPLA has a right to defend itself and to protect the civil population and their properties,” he further stressed.
Aguer , however, did not elaborate on the army plans to retake the control of the area, although military sources claimed that government troops were regrouping and organising themselves for a riposte against the rebels.
However the rebel spokesperson claimed that their forces were advancing and pursuing the government troops to the south-west of the area.
“The government troops are currently being pursued in directions towards Poktap payam west. A lot of equipment have been already captured from the fleeing (government forces),” Koang claimed.
On Sunday, the former governor of Jonglei state and current lawmaker representing Duk County in the national parliament in Juba, Philip Thon Leek, appealed to the government to deploy more troops to the area as the rebels were mobilising for imminent attacks.
However, the rebels said they were in preparations in anticipation of an imminent attack from the government against their defensive positions in the county.
The rebels spokesperson, Koang, further dismissed the government announcements that the SPLA forces were advancing on Nasir, calling it a “wishful thinking”.
On Monday, the SPLA spokesperson, Col. Philip Aguer, told Sudan Tribune that government troops (SPLA) were battling the rebels’ for control of their stronghold town of Nasir.
REBELS ACCUSE JEM
In a related development, the South Sudanese rebels have also renewed accusations against the Sudanese rebel group, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), claiming they launched attacks on their forces in Unity state.
Brig Ruai said a JEM convoy of 10 vehicles attacked the South Sudanese rebels in Koc county, but were however repulsed, adding they inflicted heavy casualties on the foreign rebels that are allegedly allied to the government army.
“In the last three days (22, 23, and 24-3-2014), Kiir’s allies from the Justice and Equality Movement fighters attacked our positions at Buaw payam in Koc county, Unity state,” partly reads the statement.
Koang further detailed that “8 [JEM] fighters killed, 2 Toyota Land Cruisers mounted with 12.7, 4 PKM light machine guns, 5 RPGs 7 with a lot of shells and ammunitions” were captured from the foreign rebels.
The Sudanese group in different statements to Sudan Tribune denied their involvement in the internal South Sudanese conflict and expressed willingness to facilitate a negotiated settlement for the conflict.
A South Sudan army soldier rests in Bor town, after its recapture on December 25, 2013 a week after the town fell to rebels loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar.(Photo Reuters/James Akena)