November 19, 2018 (JUBA) – The SPLM-IO denied claims they attacked the positions of the holdout National Salvation Front led by Thomas Cirilo (NAS-TC) in Jubek State pointing the clashes occurred between defectors and fighters loyal to the leader of the rebel group.
In a statement released on Monday, Lam Paul Gabriel, SPLA-IO Deputy Military Spokesperson said that Brig. Gen Peter Yugu Laku and Col. Augustino Modi together with 90% of their fighters returned to the SPLA-IO after dissatisfaction with the NAS TC. The two had defected from the SPLA-IO in August 2017.
“The SPLA IO would, therefore, like to strongly refute the accusations made by NAS TC in their press release dated 18/11/2018, that the SPLA-IO made a joint operation against its forces in Lobonok,” said.
“Gen Yugu’s defection back to the SPLA-IO is a threat to NAS TC in Lobonok leading to him being targeted by NAS TC forces,” he stressed.
He added the forces loyal to Cirilo sought reinforcements from Lainya to attack the splinters forces led by Gen Yugu. However, the latter intercepted the additional fighters loyal to Thomas Cirilo at the riverside; they were fought back and scattered by the SPLA IO force.
The UN peacekeeping mission and the ceasefire monitoring body report frequent clashes between the South Sudanese army and the SPLA-IO with the NAS-TC.
Aware of the situation, the IGAD Council of Minister threatened to label the non-signatories as spoilers of peace, opening the door for the imposition of targeted sanctions on its leaders who are based outside the country.
Gabriel further said they never carried out a joint attack with the South Sudanese army against NAS TC force in Lobonok or anywhere.
“NAS should take responsibility of their own mess and avoid negative propaganda against the SPLA-IO,” he added.