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SPLA recaptures Boma town in Jonglei amid fierce fighting

Deng Machol
At least 24 people were killed and dozens injured in fighting between government soldiers and rebels in South Sudan’s restive Jonglei State on Sunday.
22.05.2013  |  Bor
SPLA soldiers in Bor, May 19, 2011.
SPLA soldiers in Bor, May 19, 2011.

(Additional reporting from Juba by Charlton Doki.)

In a brief fight of 30 minutes the SPLA lost four [soldiers] killed in action and 12 others wounded. On the ground we counted 20 dead bodies of the rebels,” Military spokesman, Philip Aguer said.

Aguer confirms that during the morning fighting the army recaptured Boma town near the border with Ethipia, which rebels led by David Yau Yau overran two weeks ago.

We will continue to clear the Boma area of these militias who have rejected amnesty and reconciliation.”
Philip Aguer
He said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), had restored law and order to Boma and chased away the rebels to the hills outside town”.

We will continue to clear the Boma area of these militias who have rejected amnesty and reconciliation,” Aguer said.

South Sudan accuses Sudan of supporting Yau Yau’s rebellion to block Juba’s plans to build an alternative oil pipeline through Jonglei State and Ethiopia. South Sudan recently agreed to restart oil production after a row with Sudan over pipeline fees.

Oil produced in South Sudan is being transited through Sudanese pipelines to seaports in the north, for export.

Khartoum has repeatedly denied having any ties to Yau Yau’s rebels and has counter-accused Juba of supporting rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

A Swiss based research group, Small Arms Survey, said in a recent report that Sudan supplied weapons and ammunition to the rebels.

Aguer said that the army captured many weapons during the fighting. He said investigators will try to find out the source and the countries in which they were manufactured”. The SPLA has captured food items and drinks which were made in Eritrea -- prompting investigations whether the neighbouring country has supported the rebels against the Juba government, he added.

Following the clashes, he urged locals, who had fled amid the fighting, to return to their homes.

The government will not tolerate any violence against its citizens or looting of property, whether belonging to locals or humanitarian agencies.”
Salva Kiir Mayardit
Western envoys in South Sudan on Saturday released a joint statement through the United States Embassy, calling for an end to the violence in Jonglei State.

We are deeply disturbed by mounting reports of abuse of civilians, including killings, beatings, and looting and destruction of homes and humanitarian facilities. We urge all parties -- including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and other state and non-state armed actors -- to ensure that all civilians, regardless of their ethnic group, are protected during armed conflict,” the statement reads.

The ambassadors said that they are increasingly concerned about continued violence in Jonglei State” and expressed their condolences to the families of all casualties.

They also called on the government to bring those who committed atrocities to account -- including members of the security forces -- through transparent judicial processes.

The worsening situation in Jonglei State requires a political and not a military solution, they stressed. We underscore the need for dialogue between all parties to begin at once. We commend the government of the Republic of South Sudan for its recent offer of amnesty to South Sudanese armed groups, and we urge the groups’ leaders to accept the pardon immediately,” they said.

The officials reminded the government that ending the conflict in Jonglei State requires meeting basic needs and addressing the grievances of communities -- not simply meeting demands of rebel leaders.

Also read:
Threat of rebel violence forces Pibor residents to flee
by Deng Machol Monyrach | in Politics | 16.05.2013
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir last Friday warned armed rebel groups and ill-disciplined” elements within the regular security forces to halt violence against innocent citizens.

The government will not tolerate any violence against its citizens or looting of property, whether belonging to locals or humanitarian agencies,” Kiir added in a strongly-worded statement made in the wake of the upsurge in violence against civilians in Jonglei State and other parts of South Sudan.

The locals urge soldiers to move deeply through the areas of Pibor to recapture all the villages which are still under rebel groups’ control.

Recent clashes have forced thousands of civilians to flee local towns and villages. Unknown soldiers have looted premises belonging to humanitarian agencies in Pibor town last week.