November 27, 2017 (JUBA) – Rival forces in South Sudan on Monday issues statements in which each side accused the other of initiating military offensives to either regain or retain control Pagak, a town initially controlled by the armed opposition forces on South Sudan’s border with Ethiopia.
- South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar with the commander of special division I, Gen James Koang Chol Ranley, in Pagak, on 8 December 2014 (ST)
Maiwut state governor, Bol Ruach Rom told Sudan Tribune that government forces in Pagak came under attack from rebels loyal to former First Vice President, Riek Machar but their attempts were repeatedly thwarted and the area is still under government control.
“Actually there have been attempts by anti-peace elements for the past few days to infiltrate and destabilize the community so that peacefulness which has returned to the area is disturbed again following the takeover of Pagak by our gallant forces in July. But these attempts have been thwarted by our forces since Saturday”, Ruach said on Monday.
On several occasions, said Ruach, the rebels attempted to gain control of the bridge to block the movement of goods and services as a strategy to extend their control to their former headquarters.
“The anti-peace elements have been attempting to gain access to the bridge which is the life line, but these efforts have been handled diligently by our gallant forces and so the situation as I am talking to you is under control. The situation is calm today. The anti-peace elements have been trying to come to Jekou Bridge but our forces have handled them and that area is under control. So there is no fear, no disturbances and no threats to Pagak. Actually Pagak is far away from Jekou. The area I am talking is located east of Pagak”, he added.
The spokesman of the governor forces, Brig. Gen Lul Ruai Koang said, in a separate interview, that Pagak was under the control of government forces, with no threats from the group under the command of the country’s former First Vice President.
The official further explained that attempts by the armed opposition troops to gain access to Jekou Bridge were dealt with at the periphery of the area and the army was in full control of situations.
“The situation in Jekou is under control. The anti-peace elements have been making attempts but those attempts have been dealt with and the situation is not a major security concern”, said Koang.
He added, “Everything is fine, no problem. There should be no panic. The situation is completely under control”.
The rebel spokesman, William Gatjiath Deng confirmed in a statement he issued on Monday that government forces had attacked their defensive positions in the area, but were “repulsed”.
He, however, admitted that the armed opposition forces lost two fighters in clashes that allegedly claimed several government troops.
Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the claims made by the two rival sides on the events which occurred in places out of reach by independent sources.
South Sudan’s civil war, a conflict between forces of the government and opposition forces, broke out in December 2013. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been killed and over two million people have fled their homes