April 22, 2015 (JUBA) – Heavy fighting has erupted in Malakal, the capital of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, officials and residents told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Two soldiers were reportedly killed and scores wounded as gubernatorial guards battled fighters under the command of Johnson Oliny.
“It started yesterday evening at around 7:30 pm and carried on until around 11:00 pm. It’s also resumed this morning and it is continuing. Two of the governor’s body guards have been killed and several others are reported to have been wounded”, Upper Nile’s information and broadcasting minister, Peter Hoth Tuach said by phone from Malakal.
It remains unclear as to what could have triggered the outbreak of the fighting in town.
According to minister, one of the governor’s body guards was denied entry to Malakal civil hospital for treatment by forces under the command of Uliny, causing a scuffle.
He said the army was reinforced from outposts and now controlled the town situation.
The clashes, eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune, forced civilians to flee into the camp manned by the United Nations mission in Malakal in search of security and safety.
Several residents also confirmed on Wednesday the sound of heavy gunfire, including heavy weapons that could reportedly be heard in other parts of the strategic town.
The South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson, Col. Phillip Aguer briefly confirmed the latest clashes, but declined to divulge further details on causes of the skirmishes.
He however confirmed that there were separate skirmishes took place on Tuesday between government forces and armed opposition after the two forces met at the reconnaissance, resulting in the death of the 28 fighters and injury of several others.
The clash, Aguer told Sudan Tribune, took place in the early hours of the morning in an area called Gelachel located between Nasir town and Malakal in Upper Nile.
It is unclear as to which of the two rival forces initiated an attack on the other’s position.