January 19, 2014[Chimps] — Sources told Chimpreports that a “huge number” of soldiers were killed at Palek – over 90 kilometers from Juba when they fell in an ambush of rebels loyal to Riek Machar on January 13.
“The bodies were treated from Juba before being transported to the General Headquarters in Bombo,” a source, who preferred anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter, said.
The bodies will be taken to different Divisions from where army trucks will carry them to the soldiers’ ancestral homes for burial ceremonies expected this weekend.
This website understands that majority of the soldiers killed in the Palek battle belonged to a special guerilla squad stationed at Mbuya.
One of the deceased has been identified as Arthur Mbangira who hails from Kasana, Kitagata, Sheema District of western Uganda.
The defence ministry has consistently refused to reveal the number of slain soldiers.
Army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda could not comment on the matter as he was reported in a meeting and had not yet returned calls at the time of posting this story.
President Yoweri Museveni’s recent statements in Angola that UPDF were fighting side by side with SPLA against Machar’s rebels outraged MPs who had a day earlier seconded the mission.
“Only the other day, 13th of January, the SPLA and elements of our army had a big battle with these rebel troops at a point about 90 kms from Juba where we inflicted a big defeat on them,” said Museveni.
“Unfortunately, many lives were lost on the side of the rebels. We also took casualties and also had some dead. By yesterday evening, the Government of South Sudan, with the support from our troops, had regained control of Jemeza and the SPLA troops, on their own, had gone ahead to Sudan Safaari.”
Parliament had earlier been told by CDF, Gen Katumba Wamala, that UPDF is simply evacuating Ugandan civilians trapped in war-struck areas.
Gen Katumba further said that UPDF is guarding strategic state installations such as the airport and presidential palace and that the army was not involved in the fighting.
Museveni told the army council on Friday that UPDF’s intervention saved the state from collapsing.