South Sudan: Four Killed as SSPDF, NAS Clash in Magwi County

At least four people have been reported killed in a clash between the South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF) and forces allied to the rebel group National Salvation Front in Magwi County of Eastern Equatoria State on Sunday.

SSPDF Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said on Monday that their forces conducted a foot patrol to secure the area. “We had a force that was on regular foot patrol. They had a brief engagement with NAS rebels. SSPDF defeated the NAS forces who fled in disarray.”

Adding, “Some went to Torit County, some to Central Equatoria. On our side, we lost one; on the other, they lost three.”

Authorities in Magwi said the incident happened along Kimoru Bridge when the NAS rebels attempted to cross from the eastern side into the county.

Pole Pole Benjamin Olum, Magwi County Commissioner, said the clash between NAS soldiers and SSPDF occurred around 6:30 am. 

 “At around 6:30 am, our forces noticed suspicious people moving in the bushes. They were seen crossing the road from Iwire to Owiny. Division 7 Brigade 2 engaged in clashes with the suspected rebel group believed to be forces of the National Salvation Front. The clashes happened in Kimoru, the boma of Obbo payam, about 3km away from Magwi town. The SSPDF Division 7 Brigade 2 were able to repulse the rebel group with three casualties confirmed from the rebels’ side,” he explained.

Elia John Ahaji, Eastern Equatoria State Minister of Information, confirmed the clashes but could not ascertain whether the suspects were NAS rebels or mere criminals.

He said the security situation in the area remained calm after the government sent forces to contain the situation and that investigations had been launched into the incident.

“We are aware of what happened in Magwi. These are people who are trying to create fear in the community in the name of NAS, but we are conducting an investigation to establish their real identity. If they are NAS, we will have to establish that first, but we acknowledge there was something that happened. Our soldiers are on the ground, the security situation is normal, and people are going about their normal business,” he said.

Charles Onen Lokwaru, Chairperson for the Civil Society Network in Eastern Equatoria State, expressed fears that the clashes could destabilize peace in the area.

He urged armed and holdout groups to lay down arms and resort to peaceful means in settling disputes. 

“We have learned with concern the incident that happened in Magwi between the 18th and 20th, which involved some insecurity issues where some armed forces clashed with SSPDF. We still want to appeal to our citizens, all those holding guns and other holdout groups to discuss peace with the Government of South Sudan and find an amicable solution. Any conflict can be addressed so that we bring lasting peace in this country; we are tired of war; the people of Eastern Equatoria need peace,” he said.

Koch Madut