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SSUF field commander captured in Unity state: statement

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Former SPLA chief of staff Paul Malong Awan (ST Photo)

July 7, 2021 (NAIROBI) - South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) led by Gen. Paul Malong said its field commander was captured by government forces after a firefight in Unity State on Monday.

“SSUF/A field commander in Unity State, Lt. Col. James Cherey Geek, has been captured by a government force in a dawn ambush in Ruathlual village of Mayom County in Unity State,” the group said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

It said Geek had, on July 5, travelled with few soldiers from its base to Ruathlual to visit his family.

“Immediately he arrived at his house, Lt. Col. Geek was located and attacked by the government forces in a brief fight that lasted for 30 minutes. He was, however, outnumbered and captured along with his bodyguard,” the statement noted.

The Malong-led group accused South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) of attacks on their positions in the recent past despite the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by both sides.

In March, representatives of the government and South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) recommitted to a cessation of hostilities agreement signed on December 21, 2017.

“Over the last few days, SSUF/A has witnessed renewed aggression on our bases from the regime army in a brazen disregard to the Cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreement --- signed between SSOMA and government in January 2020 and the ongoing Rome peace initiative,” SSUF/A noted in the release.

It added, “These unprovoked actions by the regime prove their [SSPDF) unwillingness to observe the ceasefire agreement”.

The South Sudanese military has not officially reacted to the rebel group’s claims.

Meanwhile, the rebel faction appealed to the mediators, the region, and the international community to ensure the safety of their captured commander as well as his bodyguard.

Currently, SSUF/A and the Real SPLM led by Pagan Amum are engaged in peace negotiations with the government in Juba under the auspice of the Rome-based Sant’Egidio community.

(ST)

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