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S. Sudan’s Raja town attack claimed 74 lives: officials

April 19, 2017 (JUBA) - At least 74 people were killed when armed opposition forces allied to South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar attacked Raja, the Lol state administrative headquarter, last week.

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Rizik Zachariah Hassan, Governor of Lol state (UN photo)

Officials say three civilians and a number of government forces were wounded. Several properties were also destroyed, as the town was looted by rival forces when each side claimed to be in control.

In a statement issued Monday, Lol state information ministry commended government forces for having stood their ground when the town was attacked from three different directions.

“On behalf of the government of Lol state, we are grateful and thankful to our gallant SPLA forces of division five (5) under the command of Col. Albino Akol Mayuol. Their strong stand by repulsing and destroyed the enemy fully and control situation”, it read in part.

The armed attackers, it claimed, suffered heavy casualties during last week’s clashes.

“On the enemy side, 44 soldiers were killed in action at the barrack and 15 were killed in the attack on the state house. The total of those killed in action on enemy side is 59. On the government side, 4 soldiers were killed in action during a battle for control of the military barrack and another killed in the state house. 10 civilians were killed and 3 others wounded in the crossfire”, further noted the statement.

According to the ministry’s statement, the attacking forces launched came from three different directions and that while one group targeted the military barrack, the other aimed at the governor’s residence, whereas the third group planned to attack the market.

“The enemy size was about a battalion under command of Lt Col Mach Tap, who was a corporal in division five (5) and joined the rebels SPLM/A-IO in 2013,” the government said in its statement.

Sudan Tribune could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement from the government while the armed opposition faction remained tight-lipped on the matter.

Residents and observers told Sudan Tribune that several government officials lost their lives when the town came under attack, expressing fear that those killed on the government side could be higher than on the opposition side.

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission in South Sudan has urged the warring parties to silence guns and demonstrate responsibility as violence escalates.

(ST)