South Sudan’s main armed opposition, the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition, accused Ugandan government of bombarding their strongholds in Northern Upper Nile at around the same time when President Museveni was holding meetings with SPLM factions in Entebbe, Kampala, Uganda.
According to SPLA-IO military spokesman, Brig.General William Gatjiath Deng, the attack was carried out at around 3:30 pm on July 20th, 2017, in Thocdeng by two Ugandan gunships and one other MI helicopter that was not identified.
“It was the late evening yesterday at around 3:30PM, when the two (2) Ugandan gunships accompanied by another white (MI) Helicopter that was not identified which accompanied it came and landed within two (2) minutes near the enemy trenches. The two military gunships started bombardment on the SPLA-IO position at Thocdeng.” Gatjiath said.
He said after their forces returned fire, the two gunships retreated and instead bombed civilians populated areas.
“The SPLA-IO artilaries unit had excessively retaliated the air attack with (Zuu -23) until the (2) gunships went and bombarded randomly on the surrounding villages at Thocdeng.” Brig. Gen. Gatjiath said.
“All in all, nobody killed during the air attack.” He continued.
Gatjiath said the governmenty assaults on their position forces their troops to carry out offensives on the SPLA-IG site and left at least 30 soldiers dead.
“The SPLA-IO forces of division five (5) under Cdr. Major general Khor Chuol Giet and the Tiger battalions at the GHQs under Cdr. Brigadier general Daniel Gatbel Kuach took an assault on the enemy base after the bombardment that later left thirty seven (37) government soldiers dead and captured good number of light guns on the raid.” He said.
Gatjiaths reaffirms that the international community is fully aware of Juba and Kampala plans to carry out attacks on their headquarters and its surrounding areas, and therefore their forces will fight back as much as they can to defend their strongholds.
“It is clear to the UN, AU, Troika and indeed, International community that Juba and Uganda orchestrated the plan to launch attack on Maiwut and Pagak GHQs.” Gatjiath said.
“Moreover, the brave SPLA-IO forces of division five (5) and Tiger battalions managed to protect civilians in the area. Therefore, the already stranded troops of Salva Kiir shall neither step foot on Maiwut nor Pagak GHQs. Hence, the brave SPLA-IO fighters vowed downt to protect their strongholds.” He added.
The SPLM/SPLA-IO calls on the region and the international community to put constraints on Juba and her Kampala allies to end the civil war and resuscitate the peace agreement.
In response, South Sudan government denies attempt to capture Pagak.
According to Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Kong, the Spokesman of SPLA-IG, Juba has no intention to capture Pagak.
He said their forces are attempting to contain SPLA-IO who are moving out to attack oilfields.
“We say once again that we have been trying to contain rebel from infiltrating oilfields with the intention of destroying them,” Gen Lul Ruai told media this morning in Juba, South Sudan.
Lul’s report contradicts an earlier reports by the government spokesman, Michael Makuei Lueth, who clearly said that Salva Kiir’s unilateral ceasefire does not include Pagak, a statement that justified their offensives near Pagak and Maiwut.
The rebels, on the other hand, believe that they have defeated government offensives on their strongholds and Brig. Lul could be retreating from Hon. Makuei’s initial position to cover up for the government and reduce international community withdrawal of support and criticism.
In other reports TROIKA, which comprise of United States, United Kingdom and Norway, and European Union have warned that they will cease all supports and financial commitment to South Sudan Peace Process unless the region revitalize plans to return the main warring parties to negotiation table.
With no hopes of ending the civil war soon, the conflict has continued to escalate to many parts of the country that have been relatively peaceful for the past three years.
While more rebel groups and political parties are emerging, more war fronts are being created and more civilians are either being killed or displaced from their homes by the civil war.