March 5, 2017 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese rebel (SPLA-IO) official said their troops clashed with pro-government forces in Eastern Equatoria state, after the latter allegedly attempted to attack their base.
The rebel spokesperson, Col. William Gatjiath Deng, said thousands of government troops were involved, but were repulsed after they attempted to retake the SPLA-IO Anyanya division headquarters.
“On Saturday morning of March 04, 2017, heavily armed Mathiang Anyor of about one thousand (1000) attempted to attack the Headquarters of the SPLA-IO Anyanya Division under the command of Cdr Major General Patrick Ohiti Chapuho at Gong. In their attempt to attack the SPLA-IO bases in and around Torit, the Mathiang Anyor used two routes, one through Imilai via Hilieu and the other through Moti via Enyif,” he said in a statement.
The official also reported what he described as the “massive” deployment of government soldiers in Imatong, one of South Sudan’s newly-created states for possible attacks on rebel forces.
During the attack, he claimed, one Captain Stephen Wani defected to the rebels, due to the “mistreatment of non-Dinka colleagues”.
“In the heavy fighting that ensued, the JCE [Jieng Council of Elders] Mathiang Anyor suffered a discouraging pursuit and by around 3 pm South Sudan times the entire Mathiang Anyor was defeated, pushed and contained inside Torit. As is their habit since December 2013 when Salva Kiir imposed this war on the people of South Sudan, Mathiang Anyor, however, managed to loot and burn down one of the Ifwothu villages,” further noted the rebel spokesperson.
He claimed 77 government soldiers were killed during the attack, although Sudan Tribune could not independently verify the claim.
On Friday, the head of the U.N mission in South Sudan urged the political leadership to support its people in the wake of the famine declared in the war-torn nation.
“Those affected by the humanitarian crisis are still citizens of this young country, and they deserve protection,” said David Shearer, adding “But the constant fighting shows they are getting none. Instead, they are bearing the brunt."
Shearer, in the statement extended to Sudan Tribune reiterated the U.N’s call for a complete cessation of hostilities between all those who are involved in the conflict.
Famine has hit parts of Unity state. Since then, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations have evacuated from the heart of the afflicted-area due to threats of resumed fighting between the army and the SPLA-IO.
U.N agencies estimate that about 5.5 million people will have no reliable source of food by July.