South Sudanese rival forces clash in multiple locations

March 25, 2018 (JUBA) – Rival South Sudanese forces have issued statements in which each side blames the other of initiating new clashes in violation of the ceasefire in multiple places in the country, raising doubts over the commitment of the parties to ending war.

The spokesman of the army, Lul Ruai Koang told a news conference over the weekend that rebel forces allied to the exiled former first vice president Riek Machar and other armed opposition carried out attacks in the Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria regions.

“We want to provide you with a clear update on four important matters. One is the hostile activities of the rebels of Riek Machar. On the 19th of this month, the attack and killed two officers of criminal investigation department in Raja who went out for a routine security check. On 10th the rebels of Riek Machar crossed into Uganda and stole cows and crossed back. The repeated the same activities on the 9th. They crossed into Uganda and stole again livestock but this time the SPLA forces in KajoKeji area but this time our forces managed to engage them and recover the livestock”, said Koang.

The armed opposition, he claimed, also carried out attacks on Nasir town, the administrative headquarters of Latjor state on 21 March.

The same fighters, he further alleged, returned on Sunday launched another attack from three different directions but were repulsed.

Koang claimed Kalageny in Fashoda was attacked and captured from the army by rebel after it came under attack from joined forces loyal to the former agriculture minister, Lam Akol and Riek Machar.

The armed opposition’s deputy spokesperson, Col Lam Paul Gabriel, however, said their forces clashed with the government forces who attempted to pass through areas under their control with the view of wanting to open and allow movement of the civil population.

“This morning at about 8:00am the regime’s forces left their trenches and attacked our positions in Morsak and Sokare, Kajo keji in an attempt to forcefully open the road from Kajo keji to Panyume. The fight is heavy and still ongoing as I write”, said Lam in a statement.

“This came as a result of a meeting held by the regime’s Governor of Yei River Emmanuel Adil and the SPLA-IG [government army] senior officers in Kaya on 17/03/2018”, he added.

Lam claimed Governor Adil and the regime’s forces have planned to militarily engage their forces in Keji kaji –panyume, Lasu –ombasi, Morobo -lujulo-ombasi Morobo-panyume- yarebe, Pakula-yarebe before the next phase of the peace talks resume.

“Their major base for the operations will be the border town of Kaya where they are able to continue with supply through Uganda. In Sobat state, at about 8:00am on 25/03/2018, the regime’s forces also came out from Nasir and attacked our forces in Dhording and Wichtut in another set of violations but they were repulsed to Dhording where the fight is still ongoing,” said the rebel official.

This is a clear sign that the regime is not ready for a peaceful solution to this conflict created by Salva kiir”, he added.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict between force loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels led by Machar since December 2013. The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced almost over 2 million people from their homes, including over a million refugees who fled to neighbouring nations.

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