Tag Archives: Malakal

South Sudan – fresh clashes near Malakal oil hub

Reuters

By Denis Dumo | JUBA

Fresh clashes broke out around South Sudan’s second-largest city of Malakal on Tuesday, a rebel spokesman and a government official said, the latest turn in the struggle for the capital of the oil-producing Upper Nile region.

The United Nations said Malakal, on the banks of the White Nile near the country’s northern border with Sudan, was largely deserted after civilians fled the fighting.

“The rebels had been trying to provoke the SPLA all this time because the SPLA has been given instruction not to wage offensives against the rebel forces,” said military spokesman Colonel Santo Domic Chol, using the acronym for the military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“This is in line with the call by the president for the national dialogue,” he added, referring to a presidential directive on dealing with the rebels.

But rebel spokesman William Gatjiath Deng said government troops launched several attacks on rebel positions early on Tuesday.

“In the fight this morning, Juba regime suffered heavy losses in human and material, as bodies of the Juba regime soldiers lie everywhere,” he said in a press statement.

Neither Chol nor Deng had casualty figures.

Civil war broke out in 2013 in South Sudan after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy president, Riek Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group.

An internationally brokered ceasefire returned Machar to his position but broke down in July after a gunfight between the two sides in the capital. Machar and some of his fighters fled the country on foot in August, pursued by helicopter gunships.

Sporadic fighting between the rebels and government forces broke out in Malakal a week ago, forcing officials to close the airport. On Friday, Chol told Reuters that 10 rebels had been killed in fighting in Ditang, near Malakal.

The area around the city is a stronghold of Johnson Olony, a militia leader from the Shilluk ethnic group who was appointed an army general when he agreed to join the government in 2013. In April 2015, he announced he was deserting the military to join the rebels.

The civil war has driven more than 3 million people from their homes.

(Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

South Sudan – President Kiir set to establish more states

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, will soon issue another controversial order to increase the number of states from 28 states to undisclosed number, according to his second deputy and longtime ally.

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South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, delivers a speech in the capital, Juba, on 10 June 2013 (Reuters)

Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Vice President, James Wani Igga, flanked by the controversially newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, said the presidency has agreed to increase the number of states but will soon start with the issue of Malakal and Lol state as the first priority.

Malakal, is a contested capital between West Nile and East Nile states, but which was given to the East Nile by the presidential decree in October last year. Lol is another controversial state in Bahr el Ghazal region.

The two places, according to the Vice President in a statement broadcast by the state owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), are where communities have protested either splits, asserting the order had divided their communities or have been annexed to communities with whom they share nothing in common in that they would prefer to remain alone.

“We have resolved and agreed to increase the number of states but the first thing is the issue of Raja and Malakal. A committee has been formed under the First Vice President and this committee will have to complete their work and report back to the President within seven days,” revealed Vice President, Igga.

He did not say how many more states will be added to the already controversial 28 states.

The two issues the presidency had discussed and resolved, he further added, were the reinstatement of the civil servants who either abandoned their positions or rebelled, either in Juba or in the states, when the conflict erupted in 2013.

The other issue was the issue of cantonment sites for the opposition forces of the SPLA-IO. Two cantonment sites, he said, will be in central Equatoria, one in Eastern Equatoria and another in Western Equatoria.

(ST)

South Sudan – UN to send home peacekeepers who failed to act in Malakal

Al Jazeera

UN to send peacekeepers home over South Sudan inaction

Peacekeepers reprimanded over “lack of responsiveness” during deadly attack on refugee camp in Malakal in February.

At least 40 people were killed during the attack on the UN compound in Malakal [Justin Lynch/Al Jazeera]

The United Nations has said that it will send peacekeepers home over a “lack of responsiveness” during a bloody attack on a UN-run camp in South Sudan in February.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous acknowledged on Wednesday that an investigation had found “inadequacies” in peacekeepers’ response when gunmen in military uniforms stormed the camp in the northeastern town of Malakal on February 17 and 18, firing on civilians and setting shelters ablaze.

The attack on the camp, where about 48,000 people were sheltering, left at least 40 dead and 123 wounded.

Nearly 20,000 people lost their homes after they were torched by the attackers based on the occupants’ tribal affiliation.

“There was a lack of responsiveness by some, a lack of understanding of the rules of engagement by some,” said Ladsous, who refused to single out any individuals.

INSIDE STORY: Is South Sudan finally on its way to peace?

“I will not name names but there will be repatriations of units and of individual officers.”

At the time of the attack, the peacekeeping force was made up of contingents from Ethiopia, India and Rwanda.

“I can assure you that there will be a follow-up as there has been in other theatres of operation,” Ladsous said.

Initial findings of an internal UN investigation found that “there was confusion with respect to command and control” and “a lack of coordination among the various civilian and uniformed peacekeepers” during the attack.

A UN military official in Malakal told Al Jazeera that Ethiopian peacekeepers had abandoned their posts during the attack.

The same official said that the peacekeeping contingent from Rwanda had asked, in writing, for permission to fire their weapons as the base came under attack, even though peacekeepers are licensed to use force to protect civilians.

“Attackers entered in the backyard of a UN base and proceeded to shoot and kill civilians and to systematically burn down large parts of the camp, as peacekeepers responded slowly and ineffectively,” said Matt Wells, a senior adviser on peacekeeping at the Center for Civilians in Conflict.

The medical aid charity Doctors Without Borders said the UN had “failed in its duty to safeguard the people at the site and could have averted many fatalities”.

Many of those who sought shelter at the UN site in Malakal arrived shortly after Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar, who he had sacked earlier that year, of plotting a coup.

Civil war broke out when soldiers from Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group disarmed and targeted troops of Machar’s Nuer ethnic group. Machar and commanders loyal to him fled, and tens of thousands of people died in the civil war that followed.

A peace agreement signed in August collapsed and fighting continues in many parts of the country, despite both leaders joining a unity government two months ago.

The attack in Malakal threatens to deepen the conflict further. Leaders of the Shilluk ethnic group, the third largest tribe in the country who hail from Malakal, say that if they are not given their land back, fighting could ensue.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

South Sudan – fighting at UN compound kills 18

Reuters

Fighting at a United Nations compound sheltering people fleeing conflict in South Sudan has killed 18 people, including two Medicins Sans Frontieres workers, the international medical aid group said.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 when a row between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar ended with fighting that often occurred along ethnic fault lines.

People have been taking refuge in U.N.-administered “protection of civilian” sites, or POCs, since then. Thousands have been killed and more than 2 million people displaced from their homes since late 2013.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission, UNMISS, had said on Thursday fighting the night before between youths sheltering in the U.N. compound in Malakal had killed five and wounded 30 after violence erupted between two ethnic groups.

The U.N. secretary-general’s spokesman said later at least seven people had been killed.

“At least 18 people were killed in armed conflict that erupted … in the Protection of Civilians site in Malakal … including two South Sudanese staff members of … Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who were attacked in their homes,” the medical charity said in a statement.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said it had also treated 36 people wounded in the fighting, including at least 25 with gunshot wounds.

“This attack on civilians is outrageous and we demand that armed groups stop these actions,” Marcus Bachmann, coordinator of MSF projects in South Sudan, said in the statement.

UNMISS said youths from the Shilluk and Dinka ethnic groups – both staying in its protection site – began the fighting on Wednesday night using small arms, machetes and other weapons.

UNMISS says the Malakal site shelters 47,791 people out of a total 198,440 that live in six of its bases throughout South Sudan.

Kiir and Machar signed an accord last August to end fighting that has killed thousands of people.

The warring parties agreed in January to share ministerial positions in a transitional government of national unity, and earlier this month Kiir re-appointed Machar to his old post as vice president.

(Editing by George Obulutsa and Paul Tait)

South Sudan army moves on rebels positions in Upper Nile despite ceasefire

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s government has hired war-planes from the government of neighbouring Uganda and have continued to bomb rebel held positions, defending the action as a move to regain territories from the rebels and push them farther in order to secure airport in the oil-rich Upper Nile state’s capital, Malakal.

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Soldiers from the South Sudan army (SPLA) patrol the streets in the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal, on 21 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Charles Lomodong)

A senior official of the government said the air strikes and ground attacks against positions of the rebels was to secure the route government hired planes take when landing in Malakal, saying this was to minimize danger to planes passing over rebel-held territories.

“Fighting jets conducted air strikes on the rebel positions west of Malakal airport on Sunday and again Monday. The rebels are occupying the west bank on the other side of the Nile River. The landing aircrafts pass over these places which are occupied by the rebels. To secure the landing of these aircrafts, you must be sure of the safety of the aircrafts, crew members and the passengers,” a national cabinet minister told Sudan Tribune under the cover of anonymity on Monday.

The official who defended the activities of the government forces claimed opposition forces were hostile to aircrafts passing over the areas under their territories to land at the airport in town, saying in June, two months ago, the rebels shot at UNMISS aircraft carrying supplies, mistaking it to be government’s hired plane that carried troops to the frontline.

“Last time they shot even at UNMISS plane which has no government officials. From the information we obtained during the clearance, the UNMISs told us it was to be used for normal supplies of non-military items. It was the forces of Johnson Olony and the rebels of Riek Machar which carried out this attack in June. This is the mistake which cannot be allowed to repeat itself if there is a way to do that,” he said in defense of the attacks on rebels.

The attacks on positions held by the armed opposition forces on the west bank of the River Nile with helicopter gunships launched from Malakal airport have allegedly caused damage to the runway and delayed the use of the airport by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in ferrying supplies, officials and residents said on Monday.

In Juba, South Sudan has also directed UNMISS not to be using Juba airport in the evening hours, allegedly to allow helicopters to do some exercise, but officials close to the decision making said this was to conceal the movement of attack helicopters from Juba to Malakal in the evening hours.

Multiple residents and eyewitnesses of Malakal town told Sudan Tribune on Monday during a series of interviews that the air attacks were carried out as part of preparations to facilitate the movement of the government forces to cross the Nile River using gunboats with amphibian tanks and other heavy weapons. This is to attack the opposition held territories in the west bank of the Nile despite government claims of commitment to full implementation of the ceasefire, they claimed.

Officials in Malakal said citizens have confused because the national government in Juba continued to launch attacks against the rebels while at the same time senior officials speak publicly of respect to ceasefire and implementation of the peace agreement.

“People are confused as to what is happening. The national government in Juba is talking about ceasefire and commitment to the full implementation of the peace agreement which the president has signed with the rebels to end the conflict, yet the area has been witnessing military confrontations,” a state government official told Sudan Tribune from Malakal town.

The government forces on Thursday and Friday last week , according to the source and confirmed by multiple military sources, crossed the Nile River to the west bank of Malakal airport on the side of the river in violation of the ceasefire. They are presently occupying two strategic positions in Alelo and Ditang previously held by the opposition forces before the ceasefire was declared on 29 August.

The objective of crossing to the other side of the river, sources say, is to secure the airport for airplanes landing in town with returning senior government officials from Juba and elsewhere in the state.

Colonel Philip Aguer, spokesperson of the South Sudan army (SPLA), said he was not aware of the development and called on the United States and the United Nations to fill the gap created by lack of monitoring mechanisms.

The military officer cited a statement issued by the chief of general staff of the government forces, Paul Malong Awan, as evidence of the commitment of the government forces to observe ceasefire.

“The statement issued by the chief of general staff calling on the United States and the United Nations to fill the gap created by lack of monitoring mechanism shows the commitment of the army command. The essence of the statement is that if there is any independent body to monitor the ceasefire the army is ready and welcoming anybody that will fill the gap to assure the transparency in the implementation of the ceasefire. On our side, we have complied,” Aguer told reporters on Monday.

However, early this week, Aguer appeared on South Sudan TV (SSTV), saying that government attack helicopters will escort war barges that cross rebel controlled territories in Unity and Jonglei states in their movement to Upper Nile state.

The accusation of attack of the government forces on rebel positions came a day after president Salva Kiir admitted that his forces had been violating the ceasefire and warned of punitive measures against any military officer who would not comply with his orders instructing the army’s chief of general staff to observe the ceasefire.

President Kiir’s comments hinted a division within his government over the peace agreement as some senior political and military officials have defied his orders while the president seems to be reluctant to act to discipline the officers he did not mention by name.

MONDAY ATTACKS

South Sudan’s armed opposition led by former vice president, Machar, said government forces in the fifth consecutive days had attacked their base on Monday morning in violation of the ceasefire.

“Today around 11:00 am, the government forces launched counter military assaults on our position in Warjuok in Upper Nile state. The heavy shelling started this morning followed by a raid from infantry forces from the SPLA/Juba faction on our bases,” partly reads a statement issued on Monday by the rebels military spokesman, Colonel William Gatjiath Deng.

“This move came after the two Ugandan helicopters gunships used by South Sudan government had dropped random explosives and chemicals on our positions in Panyinkang, Tunja and Nyijuat Payam at 12pm yesterday. Today, the infantry forces were sent to dislodge our forces in the said mentioned areas,” he added.

He said the ceasefire violations demonstrated lack of commitment to peace by the government.

(ST)

South Sudan army says it has repulsed Malakal region attack by rebels

Sudan Tribune
March 17, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese army said it repulsed on Monday a rebel attempt to extend their control to other areas outside Malakal, the capital of oil-producing Upper Nile state.

Heavy gunfire raged on Monday morning for more than two hours on the outskirts of Malakal, between the South Sudanese army and the rebel SPLM-In Opposition, residents and military officers told Sudan Tribune.

Eyewitness said that explosions were heard to the south and west of the town, where the army claimed it repulsed attempts by rebel forces to move out the town, located about 497km north of the country’s capital, Juba.

“We are fighting the rebel just three kilometres North West of the town. They moved out on Sunday but they were beaten back”, Colonel Philip Aguer, the spokesman of the South Sudanese army, told Sudan tribune on Monday.

Aguer said that government troops had repulsed similar attacks from the rebels in Leer County in Unity state on March 14, as well as Mankien in Jonglei state.

“The sound of heavy gunfire and what sounds like RPGs [Rocket Propelled Grenades] began at around 9:15 a.m. and carried until about 10:28 am yesterday,” a resident of Malakal town told Sudan Tribune from the United Nations camp where thousands are seeking protection.

“The fighting was happening in two different places. Sounds were heavy guns and explosions were coming from the direction pointing south and west of the town. It was not far”, he said.

REBELS DENY

The SPLM-In-Opposition denied that their forces attacked new positions outside Malakal and accused the army of launching an attack to recapture the town, which has been under rebel control since 18 February.

Reacting to Aguer, James Gatdet Dak, the spokesperson for the former vice-president, Riek Machar said that government’s forces launched an offensive against their forces at a place called Khor Nyingara, located north of Malakal town.

“They were attempting to break that barrier towards Malakal but were defeated and ran back to Akoka county”, he told Sudan Tribune.

Dak further accused the government of trying to retake control of the strategic oil-rich state capital before the IGAD troops the South Sudanese leadership has invited could deploy in the state.

The two warring parties in South Sudan signed a cessation of hostilities agreement committing themselves to stop the fighting which started on 15 December last year, but it remains largely unimplemented.

An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in the violence, which erupted three months ago in Juba, before spreading out to key strategic towns and areas.

The rebellion was borne out of the political differences within the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the former rebel group that has governed South Sudan since a peace deal in 2005 secured independence six years later.

Since the conflict erupted in Juba in mid-December, it has spread to Jonglei and shortly after to the key oil-producing states of Unity and Upper Nile.

South Sudan relies on oil revenues for nearly 90% of its income.

Soldiers from South Sudan’s army patrol the streets of Malakal in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan on December 31, 2013 (AFP)

(ST)

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South Sudan army denies breaking ceasefire as UN reports clashes

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan army deny breaking ceasefire, amid UN reports of clashes


January 24, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese army on Friday denied carrying out attacks on rebels positions after the signing of the ceasefire agreement in Addis Ababa, however a UN spokesperson said clashes took place in different parts of the new nation.

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South Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier is pictured during a patrol in Malakal on January 21, 2014 a few days after retaking the town from rebel fighters (Photo AFP/Harrison Ngethi )

“There have been no reports of fighting I received today. It has been quiet”, Colonel Philip Aguer, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesperson told reporters in Juba on Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny denied in a news briefing on Friday that government forces carried out attacks on rebel held positions in the country.

“It has been calm today. The government had given out orders to soldiers not to fight anybody from now on. So it is incorrect that there has been fighting,” Ateny said.

“The situation has been quiet as far as I know. There has not been fighting since yesterday”, the presidential spokesperson stressed on Friday.

He further alleged that the rebel delegation negotiating team had no control on their fighters on the ground.

“We hope the rebels will do so the same so that they honour their signature,” Ateny said,

The two officials were reacting to statements made on Friday morning by the rebel SPLM/A in Opposition accusing the government forces in the Unity state of attacking their positions in areas of Dan-Dok, about 50kms south of Bentiu, the Unity state capital, and in neighbouring Upper Nile state.

In line with the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on 23 January, the two warring parties committed themselves “to immediately cease all military operations and freeze their forces at the places they are in”.

MACHAR REITERATES ACCUSATIONS

On Friday evening, former vice-president and SPLM in Opposition leader, Riek Machar, the claimed that the government forces loyal to president Salva Kiir attacked their positions in Unity and Upper Nile states.

The rebel leader further confirmed to Sudan Tribune the attack on his forces in Dan–Dok adding that second attack in Unity state was launched at Duar, which is about 70km from Bentiu.

“The government’s forces moved out of Bentiu and attacked our forces in Dan-Dok, 50km south of Bentiu town,” Machar said, adding that “The SPLA forces in Bor town on Friday moved out and also launched military offensive against the rebels-held positions in Mathiang near Bor.”

Machar also said that other attacks were also launched against his forces in Adar area of Upper Nile state.

He condemned the attacks, which he said were “violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on Thursday” by the two parties in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Peter Riek Gew the rebels’ spokesperson in Unity state also told Sudan Tribune that their forces managed to repel the attack in Guit County and claimed that the SPLA forces were trying to reach the Kilo 50 area and the Tharjath oil fields.

Gew said that the SPLM/A in Opposition have no intention to retaliate but added that they would continue to defend their territory. The rebel spokesperson claimed that they captured five vehicles as well as ammunition from government troops.

Sudan Tribune was unable to reach Unity state’s deputy governor for comment on Friday.

UN SAY CLASHES OCCURRED

Speaking at a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, Farhan Haq, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, confirmed that there were clashes in South Sudan despite the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement.

“The Mission (UNMISS) says that sporadic fighting took place in parts of the country today,” Haq said, urging the two parties to implement the agreement “in full and immediately”.

“The UN calls on all communities to cease hostilities and refrain from any act that could harm individuals and properties, or lead to further displacement,” he further emphasised. Half a million of South Sudanese have been displaced during the five week conflict, according to UN estimates.

The mediation said on Thursday that it would stop the negotiations from January 24 to 7 February in order to establish a monitoring and verification mechanism and other panels related to the implementation of the signed agreements.

Haq pointed out that the establishment of a fully functioning ceasefire monitoring mechanism is essential for the implementation of the agreement.

The spokesperson repeated that the “UN stands ready to provide critical support to this process”.

Last December the UN Security Council increased the number of the peacekeepers to nearly 14,000 military and police personnel to protect civilians and eventually to participate in the monitoring of a ceasefire agreement before to negotiate a political agreement.

On Friday the 15-member body issued a press statement welcoming the truce signed by the government and rebel delegation.

In addition, the Security Council “called on all parties to immediately and fully implement this agreement as the first step in a longer process of ensuring durable peace and rule of law in South Sudan and addressing the underlying causes of the conflict through an inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue, national reconciliation, and building effective State institutions”.

(ST)

Rebels accuse South Sudanese army of violating ceasefire


January 24, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A In Opposition) have accused the South Sudanese army of violating the cessation of hostilities agreement, less than 24 hours after its signing.

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South Sudan’s leader of the government’s delegation Nhial Deng Nhial (L) exchanges a signed ceasefire agreement with the head of the rebel delegation Taban Deng Gai (R) in Addis Ababa, January 23, 2014. ( Photo Reuters/Birahnu Sebsibe)

The two sides agreed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Thursday to stop all the military operations against each other.

The rebels led by the former vice-president said their positions have been attacked in the last few hours in Unity and Upper Nile states by the forces loyal to president Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, said the pro-Kiir forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have moved out of Bentiu, the state capital of Unity, and attacked the pro-democracy forces in areas of DanDok, about 50kms south of Bentiu town.

“The pro-Kiir forces have just violated the recently signed cessation of hostilities agreement in just less than ten hours after the signing. This clearly indicates the lack of seriousness on the part of the government to respect the agreement,” he said; adding that the rebels had the right for self-defence.

Dak further claimed that SPLA forces have also attacked a number of rebels-held areas on Friday in Upper Nile state.

The mediator on Thursday announced that a Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) will be formed to observe the truce.

IGAD chief mediator, Seyoum Mesfin, said that talks will stop from the 24th January to 7th of February in order to set up the various mechanisms need to implement the signed deals such a joint technical committee and MVM.

(ST)