South Sudan: Rebels say seized gov’t armored vehicles, captured Soldiers during fighting in Upper Nile

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South Sudan exiled opposition leader Riek Machar’s Sudan Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) rebels said captured three government soldiers, two armored vehicles and killed 21 as they to recapture a position they control in Upper Nile region.

SPLM-IO Spokesperson Paul Malieth said “We were attacked this (Wednesday) morning by enemy forces around 7:30 am at Zaket, just 15 kilometres away from Wadekona town, but we repulsed back the attackers to the town,”

He said they also captured in good condition 18 AK47, 6 PKM and two Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG 7) as well as ammunition when they were pushing SPLA forces toward Wadekona.

Another rebel commander Brigadier Gen. James Gatluok Nhial ws quoted by plural news website Sudan Tribune confirming fighting in the area.

He said five rebel fighters were wounded in the attacks, adding that no fatalities were reported on their side.

Nhial further pointed an accusing finger to the soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir saying they started the fighting in the northern part of Upper Nile State.

He said their forces repulsed the attackers and advance toward Wadekona at the western bank of the Nile, and one of the most disputed areas between the two warring groups during the last two year of the conflict.

Efforts by East Africa Daily to reach government officials on the matter were futile. Violent fighting has also been reported in in the oil-rich Unity state.

Last month, heavy fighting around the town of Malakal in killed dozens of people displacing hundreds.

Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, a bustling center on the White Nile River of more than 120,000 people, many employed in the oil fields nearby.

Today, the city  is rubble and almost entirely deserted by civilians, a city emptied by three years of civil war and now by new rounds of fighting. Following clashes in the city’s outskirts last week, the army flew in journalists to show that the government retains control of the strategic city, even though rebels still vow to take it.

Credit: Sudan Tribune, Associated press