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Tension as South Sudan Gov’t Forces Surround Machar Rebel Headquarters

The South Sudanese army (SPLA) in collaboration with the armed opposition faction fighters in the coalition government have reportedly laid a siege around the headquarters of rebels loyal to former First Vice-President, Riek Machar.

A senior government military officer said pro-government forces have laid a siege around the stronghold of troops allied to the exiled rebel leader.

“The rebels are in weak position. They have no logistics and so our forces decided to siege Pagak so that civilians could find an escaping route to refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia,” the officer reportedly said.

“So Pagak, as I am talking to you, is lockdown. Our forces are collaborating with SPLA-IO [armed opposition faction] peace wing under General Taban Deng Gai in battling anti-peace elements that have rejected the call for national dialogue”, he added.

Multiple sources claimed SPLA troops were few kilometres away from Pagak, a rebel base on the border of South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Pro-government forces have allegedly seized several weapons from Machar’s fighters after a series of gun battles on the way to Pagak.

Aid workers have also confirmed the clashes around Pagak, forcing some of them to flee to Gambella in Ethiopia after the town came under sustained air and ground attacks from the government forces.

About 5,000 civilians, the United Nations said, have fled their homes in Pagak.

The head of the U.N mission in South Sudan, David Shearer said last week that thousands of South Sudanese civilians were fleeing to neighbouring Ethiopia as government troops advanced towards Pagak, expressing grave concern about the growing refugee crisis.

“At least 25 aid workers have been forced to relocate from Pagak and surrounding areas due to increased insecurity,” said Shearer.

REPORT/SUDAN TRIBUNE

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