31 December 2013

South Sudan: Machar Camp Claims Recapture of Strategic Town From SPLA

Juba — Rebel forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar have declared that they managed to retake South Sudan's Jonglei state capital, Bor.

A Sudan Tribune reporter in Juba received a text message from one of Machar's aides reading "Machar forces recapture Bor town on Tuesday".

There was, however, no confirmation of losing Bor to rebels from South Sudan's army (SPLA) as phone calls to its spokesman, Philip Aguer were not returned.

Heavy gunfire erupted Tuesday morning in the capital of the country's largest state, fading hopes for possible ceasefire between rebels and government forces.

Bor was the center for much of the conflict during the 1983-2005 Sudanese civil war.

Multiple sources said armed Luo-Nuer youth, popularly known as the White army, entered Bor area, days after government forces recaptured the town, initially under rebel control.

"It is true that there is fighting going on right now around Bor," a resident told Sudan Tribune by phone.

"The fighting started at 7am and is continuing right now", he added.

The armed youth, a military source said, were on Monday cited in Mathiang and Baidit villages, which are situated near Bor town. Another unconfirmed report said forces loyal to Peter Gadet, a dissident army commander, were "just 4km" from Bor town.

An eyewitness said nearly all civilian population in Bor have fled the town into neighbouring bushes in anticipation of clashes between the rebels and government forces.

The army on Saturday warned that rebel forces loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar were planning to attack the town.

"We have information that forces loyal to Riek Machar are believed to be preparing a fresh offensive on Bor. We don't know the number, but it is estimated 25,000 youths from the Lou Nuer [tribe] have been mobilised to participate in the attack", Aguer said.

Mutineers from the army took control of Bor a few days after conflict broke out between members of the presidential guard on 15 December, with the army later retaking control of the Jonglei capital on 24 December.

A spokesperson for the dissident forces on Saturday said their troops briefly withdrew from Bor town for "tactical" reasons, admitting that government forces were in control.

"It is only [a matter] time for our forces to reclaim the town to prevent targeted lynching of individuals on suspensions of their loyalties", partly reads their statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

More than 1,000 people, according to the United Nations, have been killed and nearly 180,000 displace in nearly three weeks of the conflict in South Sudan.

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