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South Sudan confirms attacks against "anti peace elements" to protect oil areas

A rocket is launched by SPLA forces from the back of a military vehicle at Mathiang near Bor, South Sudan, January 26, 2014. (Reuters Photo)
July 15, 2017 (JUBA)- South Sudan government has denied violating a declared unilateral ceasefire but admitted launching a military offensive to drive away "anti-peace elements" at the vicinity of oil producing areas in the Upper Nile region.

Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said in a statement broadcast by the state owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation on Friday evening that the government was fighting to protect resources at risk of being disrupted from exploitation by rebel forces.

“There are people saying the government is violating the ceasefire which has been declared. This is not true. We are not fighting the SPLM-IO. The SPLA forces are fighting anti-peace elements causing havoc posing threats to the oil producing areas. The government has the duty to protect the resources,” said Lueth.

On Friday, SPLM-IO officials told Sudan Tribune that the attacks displaced over 30,000 civilians who arrived in the rebel stronghold of Pagak, adding that the government forces continue attacks on their positions in the Upper Nile region.

“Over 30,000 internally displaced persons have arrived in Pagak in the first two days of the offensive and the number increases by hours,” said Tut Rom commissioner of the rebel controlled Jotome area.

He further said 50,000 IDPs from Yom, Mathiang and Malual counties are gathering in Torbar, Panomdejop and Nyalonglong villages as they are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan David Shearer earlier this week said thousands of civilians have been displaced in several areas of the Upper Nile as soldiers approaching towards the rebels’ base in the town of Pagak, in the north-eastern part of the country near the Ethiopian border.

Shearer further confirmed that there has been heavy fighting around Mathiang, north of Pagak between the government and opposition fighters loyal to exiled force first vice president Riek Machar.

“Reports suggest that the government forces are now in and around Mathiang and approaching the town of Maiwut which is about 25 kilometres north-west of Pagak., he added.

(ST)