Dec 2, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan’s main armed opposition, the SPLM/A-IO, has recaptured Morota and slain the SSPDF General who led offensives on their positions in Yei river and Kajo-Keji counties last week.
In an exclusive interview with Nyamilepedia this morning, the military spokesperson of the SPLA-IO, Brig. Gen. William Gatjiath Deng, said their forces briefly withdrew from Morota on November 27th to evacuate their wounded soldiers and to gain strategic position to dislodge the opponents.
“They attacked our position at Morota training centers using heavy artillery at around 8am and fighting lasted for four hours.” Brig. Gen. Gatjiath said.
Asked of why their forces “tactically withdrawn” from Morota, Gatjiath further explained that it was intended to evacuate their wounded soldiers, reassess and rearm to gain strategic position that would give them an upper hand.
“Given that this is a training center with many recruits who were not even armed yet, we decided to evacuate the wounded soldiers first and strategize how we could defeat them with less casualties” Gatjiath explain, adding that it is a military strategy.
“We did not consider it as a defeat but a tactical withdrawal. If we insisted to fight them when they were attacking us from multiple unknown directions we could have incurred more casualties and at the end we could not have managed to evacuate the wounded soldiers.” He further added.
“so it was best to lure them in, afterall Morota is just an empty training center. So we decided to evacuate our wounded veterans and then came back in full force to dislodge them” Gen. Gatjiath continued.
Upon their return at 1pm on the same day, the SPLA-IO claimed that they dislodged the SSPDF from Morota and later found their commanding general, Brig. Gen Gatgueng Bipal, killed in the fighting.
“Moreover, the attack comes after the regime has learned that, their strong commander, Brig general Gatgueng Bipal, along with several officers and foot soldiers, had perished in the last battle, on the 27/11/2020,” Gatjiath wrote in a statement he released a day after the event.
According to Gatjiath, the SSPDF soldiers have been trying to retake Morota since November 27th to December 1st, yesterday, but so far they haven’t succeeded.
“After they were defeated at 1pm they came back at night on the same day and fought until the next morning. This time we had only soldiers in Morota, so we were positioned to defend our strategic position” He explained.
“By November 28 morning, we dislodge them and inflicted a lot of damage as they tried to escape in various directions” The SPLA-IO Gen added.
According to Brig. Gen. Gatjiath, fighting has continued until yesterday but the SPLA-IO are holding on to the town that has exchanged hands multiple times and burned down in the process by the SSPDF.
“Yesterday, December they attacked our position again from two directions but we defeated them again after almost 4 hours of fighting this time with even more casualties and we do doubt they will come back again” He added.
Speaking to a local media outlet yesterday, the SSPDF acting spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Santo Domic refuted the claims that their forces were involved in fighting.
According to him, it is the civilians that are fighting the SPLA-IO and not the SSPDF.
“The chiefs and youth of Kajokeji wrote a letter addressed to the governor of Central Equatorial State. They said in the letter that the IO are looting the area, they steal cows, chicken, money, goats, rape women in the area. And they were demanding that they do not want IO in Morota, they should be relocated to a different location so that they are far from civilians,” Santo Domic said.
“SSPDF has no connection with what happened, not even Major General Lokujo who joined us recently was involved. SSPDF are not peace spoilers. Peace spoilers are those who are looting civilians and providing false information that SSPDF fought in Moroto. SSPDF did not fight in Moroto, let them say the truth,” he stressed.
The fighting in Kajo-Keji are running concurrently with the SPLM/A-IO 6th National Conference that is currently going on in the capital, Juba.
While the SPLA/M-IO leadership is aware of the violations in Morota, the conference has not officially condemned the violations in the strongest terms possible.