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NAS, South Sudan army clash in central and western Equatoria: spokesperson

December 17, 2018 (JUBA) - The holdout National Salvation Front (NAS) led by Gen Thomas Cirilo said its fighters clashed with the South Sudanese government forces in Central and Western Equatoria during the weekend.

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South Sudanese SPLA soldiers in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Samir Bol)

The clashes took place after a statement released on 13 December claiming that the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and its allied militiamen of Mathiang Anyoor were massed in Lobonok (Central Equatoria) in addition to airlifting troops from Juba to Tore County of Yei River State, and Rasoul in Maridi county, of Maridi State.

NAS Spokesperson Suba Samuel Manase on Monday that the government forces based in Yei and carried out a coordinated attack on their position at Mile 13 and 20 on Yei-Maridi road on Sunday 16th December 2018 morning.

Manase said they repulsed the attack and inflicted heavy losses on the assailants.

He further said that the SSPDF launched an attack on their fighters in Lobonok on Sunday at 03:00 pm, but their fighters repelled the three-hour assault and killed seven government soldiers.

He added they wounded 10 soldiers, captured 13 AKM Rifles and two PKM machine guns as well as three Toyota Land Cruiser Pickup.

NAS spokesperson said they were prepared for these attacks as they had intelligence about the preparations more than a week ago.

NAS rejected the revitalized peace agreement calling for a genuine federal system in the country.

However, the rebel group reiterated its commitment to the Cessation of Hostilities of 21 December 2017.

"NAS urges UNIMISS, IGAD and TROIKA, Friends of South Sudan and International Community at large to dissuade the Government of President Kiir from proceeding with these unprovoked planned attacks," Manase called.

The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) will hold a technical meeting on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, in Addis Ababa. But it is not clear if its members will discuss these claims.

In its latest reports of 29 November 2018, the CTSAMVM said the situation in the Yei River State is complicated by tensions between the SPLA-IO and NAS-TC. The report said the two groups violated peace agreement.

However, this time the government forces are involved in the fighting against the NAS elements.

UN and IGAD officials called to bring the non-signatories groups to sign the peace agreement, warning that the repeated clashes the rebels may derail the peace implementation process.

The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais met the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance last week in Addis Ababa and asked its factions including the NAS-TC to submit a position paper on the peace agreement and their demands.

But the IGAD until now did not say if they plan to open talks with them for a supplemental agreement.