South Sudan’s rebels prepare to attack Paloch oilfields, renew call for oil companies to leave

Juba/Addis Ababa, May 21, 2015 (SSNA) — South Sudanese rebels on Thursday warned that it has finished its military preparation and that it will strike oilfields at anytime to capture them from government troops.

James Gatdet Dak, the Spokesman for the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) said the rebel forces once again call on all oil firms operating in Paloch to immediately evacuate their employees and leave the area, warning that anyone or entity refusing to comply with the SPLM/A-IO call will be responsible if anything happen to the lives of oil workers.

“SPLM/SPLA forces have converged around Paloch oilfields – Adar (Upper Nile) state – from different directions to capture the oilfields from pro-Salva Kiir forces any time soon. The leadership of the Movement therefore renews strong advice to any remaining oil worker in Paloch to evacuate for safety reasons,” Gatdet said in a statement extended to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).

“Salva Kiir’s government will be held responsible for anything that may happen to their [oil workers] lives in the course of fighting. We call on oil companies operating in the area to ensure that their workers are evacuated,” he warned.

The Spokesperson for the armed opposition stated that the rebel leadership has learned that South Sudanese government is preventing “some international oil workers from leaving the area, using them as human shield.”

In the document, Gatdet also reassured the people of South Sudan and the international community that the SPLA-IO forces made a “tactical withdrawal” from Melut on Wednesday for a reorganization purpose, saying that “Melut town is no longer strategic” after they captured it this Tuesday and that the SPLA-IO still controls Tangrial Bil oil refinery site located near the main oilfields.

The rebel official asserted that capturing oilfields and cutting “off Salva Kiir’s regime from the oil revenues he has been using to finance the war at the expense of the people of South Sudan” is now the number one rebels’ priority.

Gatdet further revealed that heavy fighting broke out in Unity State on Thursday after government forces attacked their outposts on Wednesday in Nyal, the administrative headquarters of Panyijiar County. Rebels “inflicted heavy losses on government’s forces in terms of human casualties and materials,” according to the statement.

In the Unity State fighting, the SPLA-IO claimed it has captured 3 T-55 tanks, 2 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), 8 big trucks captured, 2 toyota pick-up mounted with heavy weapons, and 2 fuel tankers. The armed opposition also destroyed 2 T-55 tanks, and 1 APC, according to the document obtained by the SSNA.

Early this week, the armed opposition intensified its military operations against government troops, claiming that government soldiers with their foreign allies have been attacking their positions in the oil-rich Unity and Upper Nile States.

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