The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) over the weekend killed an South Sudanese People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) soldier and wounded two others after the two forces clashed in what was reported as an incursion by the Ugandan army in the Owinykibul area of Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria State.
According to local South Sudanese authorities, there was no report of causalities from the Ugandan side after the incident which happened on Saturday evening.
Last week, residents at the border point of Pogee and Eastern Equatoria State officials accused the UPDF of encroaching into and carrying out foot and mechanized patrols in South Sudan territory, creating fear among locals.
David Otto Remson, the commissioner of Magwi County, told radio Tamazuj Sunday that clashes occurred when the two forces meet and exchanged fire on Saturday at 6 pm in Chuki village in Owinykibul.
“It was at around 6 pm yesterday (Saturday) when the incident happened between the armies of Uganda and South Sudan. A week ago, I was talking with the Resident District Commissioner of (Lamwo District) in Uganda over their encroaching into the territory of South Sudan,” he said. “What happened on Saturday was the UPDF encroached into the territory and met with our security forces and exchanged gunshots that led to two wounded and one dead from our side.”
He added: “The clashes happened in Chuki, a village under Owinyikibul and we do not know about the casualties from their (UPDF) side.”
Meanwhile, Peter Lokeng Lotone, the Eastern Equatoria State minister of local government and law enforcement agencies, confirmed the fighting and said the SSPDF had been deployed to calm the situation. He called on the local population of Owinykibul and Magwi County to remain calm as the government is working hard to address the border issue.
“We are aware of it (fighting) and the government is addressing the issue. Our forces are in the area where they have been deployed,” he said. “As the state government, we will see the way how we can reconcile and have a dialogue between the two the Ugandan district of Lamwo and Eastern Equatoria State.”
Minister Lokeng advised the population in the affected areas to remain calm as the government resolves the matter.
For his part, Okeny John, the Payam Administrator in Parajok, Magwi County, said there is heavy deployment of the UPDF in Parapadwanya and Otilo villages and that the people now live in distress.
“Currently, they (UPDF) came close to Pogee in Parapadwanya and Otilo. They deployed heavily in Otilo and partly along Acholi road as I speak now,” Okeny said. “Yesterday, there was a big plane, I think that was an army (UPDF) plane, which was moving around the areas of Patoko, Palocha, and the camps along the security roads.”
“It has scared the communities, especially people living in Patoho and Palocha,” he added.
The SSPDF spokesman Gen. Lul Ruai, when contacted, said he was waiting for more information on the matter.