April 14, 2014 (Bentiu) – After the SPLA [in opposition] claimed to have been attacked by the allied government forces in their hideout in Unity state, Peter Riek Gew, the rebel spokesperson reported that the rebels have repulsed the attack, chasing the allied troops toward the state capital, Bentiu. In the process, the rebels claimed to have captured Kubur Nyabol, Tor-Abieth,Tharwang Yele, and Tombura.
“We have been respecting [the] ceasefire agreement for so long but the SPLA never do that. We have managed to repulse [a] twin attack launched by [the] SPLA on us that led to our gallant forces – SPLA in Opposition – to capture Tor-abieth, Tharwangyiela, kilo 30 (Sikasik) which is known as Kubur Nyabol,” said Gew said, and furthered that the rebels are now advancing towards the capital.
The anti-government forces have also claimed to have overran an oil field, previously occupied by the government forces. This came shortly after the Juba government has announced its intention to restart oil production in the state, which was shut down in December.
Unity state has been relatively calm, compared to Upper Nile and Jonglei states, since the government attacked Leer and surrounding villages following the January 23rd’s ceasefire agreement. However, minor raids and accusations have been exchanged by the three neighbouring states of Warrap, Lake, and Unity State.
Fear was recently instigated by aerial bombardments in Pariang county by unknown bombers, suspected to have been from the northern neighbour, Sudan.
Residents have been reported fleeing Bentiu town in the last few days due to insecurity in the state. Aid workers have reported hearing shelling and bombing in the state.
“We are hearing artillery shelling and numbers of civilians are running inside [the] UN camp,” said an aid worker.
Dr. Riek Machar, the former vice president and the current leader of armed opposition has confirmed his intention to stop oil production in the Upper Nile state to reduce government’s chances of purchasing weapons and hiring mercenaries to fight his forces. Unity state oil fields, which used to produce approximately 45 barrels a day, have not reported any clashes since December.
IGAD’s Joint Technical Committee (JTC) comprising of representatives of the parties to the conflict, IGAD member States, the African Union, the United Nations and IGAD Partners has been deployed in the state capital, Bentiu on 5th April.
A similar team of JTC was deployed to Bor on April 1 and another one will be deployed to Malakal on 15 April, to oversee the implementation of Cessation of Hostilities (COH), a result of an agreement signed by the two warring factions on January 23, 2014.