4 May 2014

South Sudan: Defence Minister Confirms Recapture of Key Rebel Towns

Photo: United Nations
File photo.

Juba — South Sudanese defence minister announced Sunday the recapture of Nasir town, one of the stronghold areas hosting rebel fighters under the leadership of the former vice president turned rebel, Riek Machar.

The South Sudanese army also claimed to have taken Bentiu, capital of the strategic Unity state.

South Sudanese defence Minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, told Sudan Tribune Sunday that government troops were reacting "in self defence" to attacks by the rebel fighters on the positions of the latter

"There has been a fighting in Upper Nile and Unity states. The rebels of Riek Machar have been attacking positions of our forces for the last few days even after the talks have resumed," said minister Juuk in an interview conducted on Sunday.

"They continued to carry out these attacks in clear violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement," he stressed.

The Sudan People's Liberation Army spokesperson (SPLA), Philip Aguer, also confirmed the captures of Nasir, adding that a separate major assault on Bentiu has been launched.

"Nasir is now under complete control of our forces and it is just a matter of time before the SPLA take complete control of the security situation, Aguer said in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

The military officer said the rebel fighters fled the town into disarray and the government troops were still pursuing them.

Nasir which is located on the north side of the Sobat River, is at 30 kilometres from the Ethiopian border.

The town was under the control of the rebel SPLM-In-Opposition since the start of the conflict and Riek Machar met there with many foreign diplomats and journalists.

Aguer also said the SPLA troops have retaken Bentiu from the rebels who had recaptured it for the second time on 15 April.

"Our forces also launched similar operations in Unity state and there were heavy fighting too. They (the rebels) tried to resist but our forces have made significant progress. They are already inside Bentiu town, trying to clear it of rebel remnants," said the military spokesperson.

South Sudan rebel commander in Unity state Maj.Gen. James Koang Chuol confirmed the recapture of Bentiu town and accused the Sudanese rebel groups of JEM and SPLA-N of participating in the attack besides the South Sudanese army.

The rebel general who was speaking to Sudan Tribune through a satellite telephone however warned they would recapture the capital of the oil rich state.

"We will kick them out soon, it will not take us some days or hours," Choul said.

Multiple UN sources reported seeing a long line of government troops moving in convoy of heavily armed opened vehicles and tanks moving Bentiu town on Sunday.

"A huge force moving slowly passed near our office this morning. It was heading toward the Bentiu town. They were moving in heavily armoured Personnel Carriers. They were not shooting but we have heard sound of heavy firing before they came", a UN source told Sudan Tribune on Sunday in an e-mail message.

The warring parties resumed peace talks in Addis Ababa amid strong international pressures to stop the fighting and allow humanitarian access to civilians and IDPs camps.

Also, Washington called on president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar to meet as soon as possible and recommit themselves to the ceasefire agreement and strike a political deal.

Sudan Tribune has learnt that the fighting broke out on Sunday in the far north of Upper Nile state, as the rebels are now heading to Renk town after controlling Gerger and Jalhak areas.

More on This

South Sudanese Rebels Claim to Have Regained Control of Strategic Bentiu Town

The opposition forces led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, have claimed to have regained full control of the … see more »

Copyright © 2014 Sudan Tribune. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 1,400 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.