South Sudan’s rebels capture Ayod, warn of ‘serious military confrontations’

Addis Ababa, March 27, 2015 (SSNA) — Spokesman for the armed opposition of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) Colonel Lony T. Ngundeng has released a statement on Friday, saying rebel forces and Local Defense Force (LDF) have launched a joint operation against government soldiers and recaptured Ayod county of Jonglei State. The rebel Spokesperson also warns that the whole Upper Nile region could soon fall under the SPLA-IO.

Lony said the operation is a direct response to what he calls "repeated government assaults" on rebel positions.

Heavy fighting between South Sudan’s warring forces has been raging since early this week with both sides accusing each other of attack.

The hostility which began this Tuesday ended in the early hours of Friday, with the SPLA-IO saying its armed forces managed to deliver a ‘crushing blow’ to government troops.

Ayod had already changed hands several times since the fighting broke out.

Rebels said the fall of Ayod occurred in the early hours of Friday and that combined forces of the SPLA-IO and LDF participated in the operation.

“This morning the SPLA forces in a joint operation with Local Defense Force or (LDF) manage to flash out the government forces in their position in Ayot, jonglei state,” a statement extended to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) reads in part.

In the statement, the rebel military Spokesman accused Juba and its allies, saying fighting broke out on Tuesday after government’s soldiers launched surprise attacks on rebel outposts in and around Ayod County.

“The fighting had been on for the last three days since on Tuesday when government troops came out from their trenches to advance to our different locations,” the statement added.

The rebels also said the SPLA-IO and LDF have inflicted heavy losses on Juba’s troops, captured more ammunition, two tanks, military hardware, and killed 154 government soldiers.

The SPLA-IO has clarified that civilians who live in areas under rebel control have created the Local Defense Force or (LDF) to protect themselves from Juba and its foreign allies.

The Acting military spokesman further disclosed that attempts by government rescue helicopters were not possible because the SPLA-IO and LDF forces use sophisticated firepower to deny them any landing in and around Ayod.

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