The breakaway faction of the SPLA-IO allied to Gen. Simon Gatwich Dual on Tuesday said they had overrun and are now in control of bases that were under forces loyal to First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar in Northern Upper Nile State.
This followed renewed fighting between the belligerent SPLA-IO camps which commenced on Boxing Day in the Magenis area of Manyo County, on the border with Sudan.
Major General Maurice Samuel Oraj, the spokesman of the First Division of the Agwelek forces of Gen. Johnson Olony who are part of the Kit Gwang Declaration and loyal to Gen. Gatwich, told Radio Tamazuj Tuesday afternoon that their forces managed to take control of two strategic areas which were under the control of Riek Machar’s forces. He added that they seized a number of military vehicles and munitions.
“Our forces took control of the Amoud area, the stronghold of Machar’s forces, and the Okuri area, in addition to seizing 7 cars, including 5 Land Cruisers and a large number of weapons,” Gen. Oraj said.
He said that Dr. Machar’s force attacked their positions in the Magenis area at 5 am on 26 December from two positions but that they were repulsed and pursued in the ensuing fighting.
“Our forces advanced to the Al-Amoud area, the stronghold of Machar’s forces and more clashes took place which led to a great loss of life,” Gen. Oraj said. “We found 5 bodies from Machar’s forces after a combing operation. On our side, two people were killed and six wounded.”
He said the capture of Amoud and Okri effectively means the end of the presence of Dr. Machar’s forces in the north of Upper Nile State.
On Monday, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the spokesperson of the SPLA-IO forces loyal to DR. Machar confirmed that their forces clashed with the Kit Gwang faction but accused the latter of starting the fighting.
Efforts to reach Col. Lam on the latest developments on the ground were futile as his known phone was not available.
The two factions of the SPLA-IO have been clashing since last August when the then Chief of General Staff of the SPLA-IO, Gen. Simon Gatwich Dual, broke away and announced the dismissal of DR. Machar as the leader of the SPLM/A-IO.
Last October, Gen. Gatwich’s group agreed to hold talks with the South Sudanese government in Khartoum, Sudan but it has not amounted to much.