South Sudan rebels claim capture of multiple key places in Equatoria

South Sudan's army soldiers drive in a truck on the frontline in Panakuach, Unity state April 24, 2012. (Reuters Photo)

August 27, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rebel fighters allied to the exiled former First Vice President Riek Machar have issued a statement claiming to have captured Kaya, Bindu, Kimba and Bazi.

“Yesterday morning (Saturday 26) at exactly 06:00 hour (local time), our joint operations forces of division 2B under the command of Major. General John Mabieh Gaar successfully launched a coordinated attack on Kaya, Bindu, Kimba and Bazi. Our forces flushed the enemies out of Kimba, Bazi, Bindu and in Kaya, the enemy forces are confined at the Ugandan border,” said Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO Deputy Military Spokesperson.

The deputy rebel military spokesperson also claimed that their force killed 56 government soldiers including the commander of Bindu base who was a Major and a Captain from the government military intelligence unit in Kaya known locally as Malis.

Furthermore, he said they seized (1) 12.7 mm machine guns, six (6) PK machine guns, four (4) RPGs and twenty-eight (28) AK47 were some of the military equipment and assets they captured during the operations.

He said they lost three (3) fighters and 15 wounded.

From his part, the deputy military spokesperson of the government forces confirmed clashes have occurred between the two rival forces He said the SPLA killed up to 16 armed opposition fighters, three government soldiers with six others sustaining injuries during the military operations in Kaya, Yei River State.

Colonel Santo Domic said that the attack occurred at 06:20 am and lasted until about 07:20 local time.

“Three SPLA soldiers were killed and 6 others injured. Fighting finished and the SPLA forces went to inspect the combat zone and were surprised to find among the 16 dead bodies the body of a white man,” he said referring to the U.S. journalist killed during the fighting.

The South Sudanese government accuses the rebels of refusing to stop the fighting in line with the ceasefire agreement. The SPLM-IO from its part accuses Juba of breaching the peace agreement and attacking their positions in the country.

The four-year conflict has affected some 7.5 million people who are in dire need of humanitarian support. Some 15 aid workers were killed this year until now bringing the number of humanitarians killed during the four-year conflict to 85 people.

However, the lack of security impedes humanitarian access to the civilians while the aid workers have become a target for the rival parties.

Aid actors reported 100 humanitarian access incidents in South Sudan in June 2017, representing the highest number of incidents recorded in a single month in 2017 to date. Also, there are 257 incidents of violence against aid workers and 32 looting attacks on aid convoys.