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Sudan Tribune

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S. Sudan gov’t accuses SPLA/IO of attacking their forces, opposition denies

December 1, 2015 (WAU) – State governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal state, Rizik Zackaria Hassan, has accused the armed opposition faction of the SPLA-IO led by first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, of allegedly attacking their positions in the state despite the ceasefire deal, but the opposition faction dismissed the accusation as a pretext for further attacks on their cantonment areas.

WBGS governor Rizik Zackaria Hussan and South Sudan's police Inspector General Peng Deng Majok in Wau on 21 April 2015 (ST)
WBGS governor Rizik Zackaria Hussan and South Sudan’s police Inspector General Peng Deng Majok in Wau on 21 April 2015 (ST)
Rizik said their forces came under surprise attack at 5:30am on Tuesday in Tirka area between Boo and Bazia payams along Yambio – Wau road, south west of the state capital, Wau.

“This morning at around 5:30am, our forces in Trika between Boo and in Bazia came under attack by the rebels this morning. When tried to send into the reinforcement from Wau to go and cope up with the situation also the reinforcement that we sent fell into an ambush,” said governor Hassan on Tuesday.

It not yet clear how many government soldiers died in the attack but the state governor described the situation as tense, revealing that the information his office received confirmed that three government soldiers died instantly.

“The situation still tense that is why we are now managing the crisis and even that is why the commander of the army couldn’t come because they are there and they are trying to reinforce the situation,” governor Rizik further revealed while meeting the last week’s detained heads of civil society organizations by his state government in the capital.

He however said the opposition forces were defeated in the area and that the security forces were taking control of the situation.

SPLA-IO DENIES ACCUSATION

Meanwhile the official spokesman of the opposition leader said he had not received reports of the alleged attack on the government forces in Western Bahr el Ghazal state, saying this could be a further pretext for the ongoing violations by the government.

“I have not received information of fighting in the area. For sure our forces have been directed to respect and strictly observe the permanent ceasefire. They can only fight back in self-defense,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune when contacted on Tuesday.

Dak said government forces have been instead deploying closer to designated cantonment areas of the SPLA-IO with the aim to attack such concentrations and disperse them, saying this is a serious violation of the ceasefire and the security arrangements agreement which required assembling of the opposition forces in cantonment areas.

He said the claim by the government could be a pretext in order to attack the cantonment areas located in Western Bahr el Ghazal state.

Last week, government forces using helicopter gunships air raided SPLA-IO cantonment area in Mundri in Western Equatoria state, killing two Brigadier Generals, and an unknown number of soldiers.

Juba was also accused by the opposition faction of attacking by air another cantonment area in Kaka in the oil rich Upper Nile state.

Dak further claimed that the government in violation found it an opportunity to attack by air and on the ground the concentrated assembly areas, adding this should stop.

The accusations from the government came as the opposition faction is ready to send over 550 cadres to Juba either on Wednesday or Thursday as an advance team to jump start implementation of the IGAD-Plus brokered peace agreement signed in August between president Salva Kiir and the opposition leader, Machar.

The implementation of the deal has however been witnessing violations with the two parties trading accusations over political and security violations.

(ST)