September 3, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — A South Sudan rebel group led by the former Deputy Chief of Staff of South Sudan People Defense Force(SSPDF), Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka, has accused the army of being responsible for the recent attacks on trucks that were delivering humanitarian services in Lainya county and other parts of Equatorian region.
According to a statement extended to Nyamilepedia Press by the National Salvation Front/Army (NAS), the SSPDF were the ones that looted and burned down two civilian lorries that were delivering food aid to displaced communities in Lainya county.
“In its continuous flagrant violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) and war on civilians, on 29th August 2020, the SSPDF looted and burned two civilian lorry delivering food aid to displaced communities in Lainya County.”
Their justification is that the ambush happened in a close proximity to the SSPDF military base and in addition, the SSPDF forces were seen feeding on similar items that were reportedly looted from the Lorries.
“The road ambush took place at a close distance to the SSPDF detachment on the road” NAS tried to justify their claims.
“Some of the relief items on that lorry were observed at Kulipapa SSPDF detachment being consumed by the military personnel. This attack by SSPDF is a plot to deny the delivery of humanitarian aid to the displaced communities in Lainya to stop the leakage of credible information on violations committed by SSPDF in Lainya and some parts of Yei areas.” NAS report continued.
The Equatorian based hold-out armed opposition, NAS, was responding to earlier accusations from the army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, who claimed that the rebels ambushed the lorries hopping to snatch food items and salaries that were meant for their forces in the area.
Who was responsible for the attack at Mile 55?
On August 23rd, 2020, an SSPDF vehicle that was carrying some food items and money was attacked near Mile 55 by unknown gunmen.
According to the SSPDF Spokesman, Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, the unknown gunmen must have been forces of NAS who were trying to snatch their food; however, NAS has responded claiming that the unknown gunmen must be disgruntled members of the SSPDF that were motivated by self interest.
“On August 23rd, 2020 our Administrative vehicle delivering salaries and Food Rations to forces deployed at Mile 55 was deliberately ambushed by NAS fighters resulting in four dedicated servicemen getting martyred while two sustained gunshot wounds,” Gen. Lul Ruai Kong said.
Gen. Lul said that their forces fought NAS forces; however, their outnumbered forces only fought in self-defense but the army refused to take blames for venturing into a NAS controlled area without informing NAS administration.
“Own small force of Platoon Minus heroically fought in self-defense and managed to break through. It’s worth underscoring that SSPDF couldn’t inform NAS in advance on forces’ movement for administrative purposes due to the fact that they are not represented on various monitoring mechanisms.” Lul Ruai said.
General Lul claimed that the attack was motivated by greed to steal their salaries and food; however, NAS has fired back in their latest response saying that the Central Bank are looted dry by politicians in Juba and therefore South Sudan army does not have money to pay their forces.
“They were motivated by greed to steal salaries and food rations meant for own soldiers and lack of commitment to Rome Declaration and escalation of low scale operations for publicity stunt. Continuous attacks on own forces is tantamount to rattling King Cobra.” Lul claimed in his statement.
“The SSPDF Spokesman issued a flawed press statement on 31st August 2020 with false claims that NAS forces ambushed their administrative vehicle delivering salaries and food ratio to their base at Miles 55, killing four (4) soldiers,” NAS Spokesman reiterates.
“it is public knowledge that the regime of Salva Kiir has looted and emptied the state coffers including the Central Bank of South Sudan.” NAS reiterates.
According to NAS spokesman, it is only those forces which are protecting president Salva Kiir that are paid salaries claiming that the rest have not been paid for at least 8 months.
“the Tiger Division, National Security and Mathiang Anyoor militia which is the private army of the President Salva Kiir receive salaries in south Sudan. The rest of the forces have not received salaries for the last eight (8) months and this situation brought about this internal rivalry and counteraction.” They continued.
Despite, NAS speculate that the recent fighting between the SSPDF and the unknown gunmen must been an internal operation that was staged to send a strong message to president Salva Kiir to pay their salaries or else they will defect.
“The truth is that, it was an internal convert operation carried out by SSPDF soldiers. According to our reliable sources inside SSPDF HQs in Juba, these soldiers are part of elements that are disgruntled and demoralized because of lack of salaries and services. Their message was to Kiir’s regime to either pay them their salaries else mutiny or more of such action may be witnessed in the coming day,”
NAS distances themselves from what they believe is an SSPDF propaganda to tarnish their image and call on general public to take note of the regime manipulation tactics.
“about the propaganda of the South Sudan people’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) aimed to cover up the truth about its futile aggression on NAS positions and to smear the image of NAS.” They said
“The SSPDF command was unable to justifiably explain what exactly happened; hence their delay in reporting this incident for one week as they were frantically looking for a cover-up story” NAS continued.
The hold-out group reiterates its commitment to ceasefire agreements saying “NAS reiterates its commitment to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed on 21st December 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and to the Rome Declaration signed on 12th January 2020 in Rome, Italy. NAS however, reserves the right to self-defence.”