December 19, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s army (SPLA) acknowledged that it is “not in control of Bor” after forces loyal to Gen. Peter Gatdet Yak overran military bases on Tuesday and took over the town Wednesday evening.
- SPLA General Peter Gadet Yaak, addressing the press in Bor, Jonglei, South Sudan, Tuesday 2 April, 2013 (ST)
SPLA spokesperson Col. Philip Aguer said the national army is meeting to set the next move in light of the development amid growing international concern for the humanitarian situation in Jongeli’s state capital.
Earlier today, South Sudan army said that Gen. Gadet, who was a commander in charge of the SPLA’s 8th Division in Jonglei state, has defected from its ranks.
He reportedly broke off from the national army ranks on allegations that his tribe, the Nuer, have been targeted in the current tension.
Over the weekend clashes erupted in Juba between among units of the presidential guards from competing tribes of Dinka and Nuer. The fighting spread throughout the city which lead to the death of at least 500 people with hundreds more injured.
On Monday, Kiir appeared on TV to declare that his former deputy Riek Machar, who hails from the Nuer tribe, staged a coup attempt along with other prominent South Sudanese officials who were part of the government and are leading figures in the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Observers and independent analysts have expressed fears that Gadet’s defection could complicate the security situation in Jonglei where government forces have been battling to exert full control in areas where rebel David Yau has remained active since 2012.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a news release today that the “security conditions in the Jonglei State capital of Bor have deteriorated significantly during the course of the day”.
“UNMISS has received reports that heavy fighting erupted in the city in the wee hours of this morning and continued for four hours. The violence triggered an exodus of civilians out of Bor, and thousands have sought shelter at the Mission’s compound on the southeastern outskirts of the city” the statement said.
“As is the case in Juba, UNMISS is providing water, sanitation facilities and medical care to civilians who have taken refuge in its Bor compound. A limited number of tents have been erected to house some of these civilians. Late this afternoon, UNMISS staff members reported that heavy weapons fire erupted in a neighborhood of Bor about a kilometer away from the Mission’s compound”.
In Bor, residents fled to nearby bushes and swampy areas across the Nile River.
One resident, still hiding within the town, told Sudan Tribune by phone on Thursday that “a huge building is burning in the market” raising possibility of looting and destruction in Bor trader center of Maror.
Jonglei acting governor John Kong Nyuon, who arrived to Bor Wednesday evening from Juba, is said to be taking refuge in UNMISS camp while a number of senior state officials have reportedly fled the town with civilians.
South Sudan Red Cross said at least 19 bodies were found on Wednesday bringing the death toll to 22 when three children who perished in a boat capsizing in Nile River are included.