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S. Sudan rebels claim capture of Yei River state town

November 2, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan armed opposition faction claimed it its force have regained control of Ombachi, a payam in Yei River state after allegedly defeating pro-government troops.

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Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar march through a village inside rebel-controlled territory in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state on 9 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

“Gallant SPLA/M [Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement] under the direct command of Lt. General Wesley Welebe Samson today [November 2] at 7:00AM attacked and captured Ombachi town and the entire payam in Yei River state,” reads the rebels’ statement.

The armed opposition forces also claimed the attack occurred after South Sudanese security officials allegedly denied civilians access to the needed humanitarian assistance in the state’s Lasu payam.

The South Sudanese army spokesperson was unavailable to comment.

The South Sudan government has, however, renewed earlier commitments to restore a permanent ceasefire in the young nation.

The foreign affairs spokesperson, Mawien Makol said the Juba government remains committed to the restoration of permanent ceasefire as the High-Level Revitalization consultation by members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) continues.

In June, a summit of IGAD heads of state and government decided that meeting of the signatories of the South Sudan peace agreement to discuss ways to revitalize the peace implementation be convened. At the summit, it was agreed that all groups be included in the discussion aimed at restoring a permanent ceasefire.

The South Sudanese government warned that the revitalization forum by IGAD, the regional bloc which mediated the 2015 peace accord, should not be another platform for negotiations of the peace accord between the two factions to the conflict.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between South Sudan’s rival leaders following months of intense negotiations led to the formation of a transitional national unity government in April 2016, but this again faltered after renewed violence broke out in Juba in July 2016.

Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked Riek Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst violence since it seceded from Sudan in 2011.

(ST)