Dec 4, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Latest fighting in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State that hosts the national capital, Juba, has left four soldiers dead and six others wounded on the side of the armed opposition, SPLA-IO, alone
“SSPDF has been attacking our forces in various training areas within Central Equatoria State and others, particularly areas of Kejo-Keji. The attacks started from 21st of November to 27th and also yesterday [Wednesday].” Said Deputy Spokesperson, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel while referring to an attack on December 2, 2020.
“The Wednesday clashes left four of our IO soldiers killed and six others injured. Our soldiers were airlifted to Juba for treatment. Our commanders on the ground have also reported to us that the general who commanded the SSPDF soldiers during the attack was killed by our forces,” Lam continued.
The SPLA-IO alleged to have killed the commanding officer of the SSPDF, who was identified as Brig-General Gatgueng Bipal, and his bodyguards.
Gatgueng was alleged to be a loyalist ot Gen. Taban Deng Gai, the Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster and bitter rival to Dr. Riek Machar.
The SPLA-IO accuses Gen. Taban of being behind the recent attacks on their positions, claiming that he wants to dislodge SPLA-IO from the outskirts of Juba.
“There were many casualties in the recent fighting in Morota and one of them was identified as Brig. Gen. Gatgueny Bipal who was the leader of that operation. We knew Gatgueng as a loyalist of Taban. Also the POW that were captured were investigated by the SPLA-IO and they confessed that they are getting their orders from Taban and Gen. Koang Chuol Ranleey” Brig. Gen. Gatjiath said during an earlier interview by Nyamilepedia.
Responding to these reports, the acting spokesman of the SSPDF, Maj. Ben Santos Domic, denied the allegations that the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces is fighting the SPLA-IO in Kajo-Keji.
According to Gen. Domic, it is the civilians who are fighting the SPLA-IO and not the army.
“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.
Gen. Domic also denied allegations that their soldiers or a general was killed in Morota.
“There were reported clashes in Moroto area but according to our sources there, the clashes were between the locals and the SPLA-IO and thus currently I don’t have any information regarding any of our soldiers or general killed in those clashes,” said Domic.
Responding to Domic, the SPLA-IO military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. William Gatjiath has denied that it is the civilians fighting their forces, saying civilians do not have heavy weapons that those who attack them have.
“How can civilians have tanks? Who supply them with tanks? Who train them to operate such heavy artillery.” The SPLA-IO Spokesman said.
“It must be a lie that we are fighting civilians” Gatjiath continued.
“When they attacked our positions, they don’t attack with light weapons, they come with heavy artilleries, tanks, BMs, 14 and other heavy weapons mounted on trucks” He added.
South Sudan’s warring parties signed a revitalized peace agreement to end the conflict in September 2018 on a three-year term but the agreement has taken its effects so far.
The armies should have been collectively trained and unified but the process has since delayed for various reasons leading to more frustrations and violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement.