February 16, 2017 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese army (SPLA) said Thursday it had gained control of Yuai, a key rebel town in located in eastern Jonglei region after clashes during which some rebel fighters allegedly joined pro-government forces.
- SPLA soldiers are seen at the airport in Bor January 19, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Andreea Campeaunu)
Yuai, the Bieh state capital, used to host the rebel-appointed governor.
The clash took place on Wednesday after a group of rebel defectors declared their allegiance to the government on Tuesday. The defection generated mixed reaction from the local population, resulting in clashes which government forces based in Pajuet military outpost exploited and used it to gain control of the area.
The deputy SPLA spokesman denied there was fighting, saying they took over the town after the rebel faction allied to former first Vice President, Riek Machar deserted it.
The military spokesman of the armed opposition did not make any statement about the development.
Multiple military sources in Bor, however, told Sudan Tribune, that the SPLA were forced to fight back after the rebels attacked their soldiers at the nearby village of Patuet, not far from Pajut.
“After rebels attacked our soldiers at Patuet, they were not only pushed back, but also given a hot pursue. So we ended up in Yuai today”, a junior military officer, said.
Although the army headquarters in Juba concealed information regarding the clashes that occurred in Bieh state, rebels on the side confirmed the fighting, but claimed that SPLA forces were repulsed by the white army, claims Sudan Tribune could not easily verify.
There are also reports that civilians in Uror county, displaced as a result of the fighting have been moving towards Akobo on the Ethiopian border.