Updated at 6:10Am, Oct 30, 2014(PST)
October 30, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Latest report from Unity State capital, Bentiu, alleged that the town of Bentiu was captured at 4pm on 29th October, 2014 by the rebels following an intense battle between the warring factions of the divided SPLA.
The intense battles have reportedly escalated into Panriang county, a government stronghold in Unity State that was barely hit by intense battles. The fighting in Panriang, according to the residents, is a direct consequence of government troops retreating toward Warrap State following the three consecutive days of fighting in Unity State.
According to multiple sources, contacted by Nyamilepeida’s editorial team, fighting reached Bentiu town at around 10Am, following two days of intensive military campaign over the oil-fields and the strategic town of Rubkona.
Although the two warring factions agreed that the recent encounters are the most intense battles in Unity State, the two sides claim to be in full control of Bentiu town.
The Government Reports:
Speaking on the state owned SSTV, the government spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, confirms that fighting broke out at 11:35Am on 29 October, 2014, however, Aguer claims that the government troops have defeated an approximate of 7,000 rebels who attempted an attack on their position.
“Forces of Riek Machar attempt SPLA position in Bentiu town at 11:35Am, and the SPLA government forces fold the attacking that has been estimated by the SPLA commander in the town to be a force of 7000 that attacked Bentiu today, the fighting ranged for four good hours, the SPLA forces in Bentiu under the Maj. Gen. Teny Gatluak are in full control of Bentiu as we speak today” Aguer said on SSTV.
Aguer believes that the battle last four hours and the rebels have suffered heavy casualties, however, the colonel could not clarify whether the over 6,000 rebels remain in the outskirt of Bentiu or retreated to the oil fields.
According to Gordon Buay Malek the fighting began at 11am on 29th October, 2014 and the rebels in “Bentiu and Rubkona were repulsed at 3:00 PM.” The two reports converge, however, contradicts the earlier report by president Salva Kiir.
According to president Salva Kiir, fighting in Bentiu began on Monday, October 27th, 2014, and continues as he addresses the governors forum in Juba.
“there is a fighting going on now in Bentiu as we are here. The rebels of Riek Machar have launched an attack on the positions of the SPLA forces in the area and we are expecting them to do the same in other areas, especially in Upper Nile state,” Salva Kiir told the governors forum in Juba on Monday, 27th October, 2014.
Buay revealed that the government is planning to review its commitment to Jan, 23rd Ceasefire Agreement and shall decide if the government shall resort to war to defeat the rebels.
“Starting from tomorrow, we will review our commitment towards the Ceasefire agreement of Jan, 23rd unless IGAD takes drastic measures against the rebels. The violation of the ceasefire agreement today is unforgivable thing that we, as the government, cannot tolerate. If the rebels want war, then, we have to give it to them.” Buay said.
In other reports, the government delegation to the IGAD led peace talks is considering withdrawing from the peace process in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
“I believe and I advise our government, the Government of South Sudan that there should be a real protest by withdrawing the delegation and telling the international community that we are for peace but the rebels are not for peace,” Martin Majut told EyeRadio.
The SPLM/SPLA-IO Reports:
According to Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, the military spokesman for the SPLA (in Opposition) the Gallant Resistance Fighters liberated Bentiu town in the afternoon of 29th October, 2014.
“the Gallant Resistance Fighters under overall command of Gen.Peter Gatdet Yak this afternoon liberated Bentiu town from Kiir’s genocidal forces.” Brig. Gen. Lul said.
Lul believes that the SPLA forces responded to attacks on their positions North and South of Bentiu town for two consecutive days, which resulted in recapturing of the majors towns, under government control. Lul clarifies that the government forces were pursued in the directions of Mayom and Panrieng.
“In the last two day; the enemy has been attacking us 5km north and 7km south of Bentiu forcing our forces to return a barrage of fires in self-defense leading to the fall of the town. Our forces are consolidating their gains and pursuing these tribal militias towards Mayom and Panrieng.”Lul said.
While responding on Monday to President Salva Kiir’s earlier report, Lul said that the president accused the rebels in advance to secure favor from the regional body, IGAD, and the International community when he later launches his attacks.
“He (Kiir) is only trying to defend his forces by accusing us first, so that when he launches attacks he will blame us instead,” Koang said.
Earlier Fighting in the Oil Fields:
Various sources contacted by Nyamilepedia’s correspondents confirmed that the war broke out on Monday in the Oil-field between the two rival forces and escalated into the strategic towns of Bentiu and Rubkhona.
Although the warring factions traded accusations on attack, most of the Unity state oil fields, which were shutdown in December, 2013, are controlled by the rebels.
According to Gen. Makal Kuol, who command the SPLA-IO operations in the oil fields, a heavily armed government force, estimated to be more than 4000, attacked their position in the early morning of Monday, 27th October, 2014.
The General claims that his forces managed to repulse the government forces after two hours of intense fighting. Gen. Kuol believes that his forces pursued the government troops in two directions; one in direction of Rubkona and another toward Bentiu, a report that Philip Aguer strongly denies.
Gen. Kuol explains that, given the important of oil to Salva Kiir government, the opposition has been anticipating attacks on their position.
“Dictator Salva Kiir planed to attack our position from May, so we were not surprise at all on Monday when they attacked us at 5Am. But we taught them a lesson they will never forget.” Gen. Malakal said.
“We knew they were going to attack us but these young boys call Mathiang Ayoor are not well train to fight our forces. The Dictator Salva Kiir is giving these boys guns and uniforms, go capture oil fields in Unity State, now they are dying everywhere, Salva Kiir must find his oil in Warrap or we will finish his Mathiang Ayoor ” the general said.
Gen. Kuol claims that the rebels intelligence discovered the plan after the government troops crossed over to Unity State at Abiemnoum.
“We control Unity state, so we discovered their plan in time. Our freedom fighters saw them crossing over into Unity state at Abiemnoum, so we knew that they were going to attack us and other important points in Unity state. We got prepared to defend our land and its resources from dictator Salva Kiir.”Gen. Kuol said.
IGAD Blames the Opposition for the Conflict in Unity State:
The IGAD special envoys for South Sudan “strongly condemn the action of SPLA (in Opposition) to initiate the conflict in the area of Bentiu, Unity State, South Sudan.”
The regional body decries the resumption of violence at the resumption of peace talks, which the bloc believes was intentionally plans to affect the good faith portrayed by the South Sudan leaders during consultation in Khartoum, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Arusha.
“This unfortunate development comes despite the significant progress in the peace talks: in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, where the parties took major steps toward in resolving their outstanding differences; during the recent consultations in Addis Ababa, Khartoum, Nairobi and Juba with IGAD Heads of State and Government” part of the IGAD report of 29th October, 2014
“The commitment by President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar to work together and share power in the transition government; and the decision by the three competing factions in the Intra-SPLM party dialogue in Arusha, Tanzania to accept collective responsibility for the conflict, as witnessed by President Kiir and Dr. Machar. Furthermore, the violence comes at the start of the current session of peace talks in Addis Ababa, and on the eve of the convening of the Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, and at their specific request, direct negotiations between President Kiir and Dr. Machar” The report continued.