SPLA-North withdraws from Malakal as South Sudanese rebels threaten “all-out war”

Pagak, May 27, 2015 (SSNA) — South Sudanese rebels have revealed that combined forces of SPLA-Juba and SPLA-North with air support from Ugandan air force early this week launched a coordinated attack against rebel positions in the capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile State.

The armed opposition said fighters of the Sudanese rebel, the SPLA-North, started withdrawing from Malakal on Tuesday evening and completed their withdrawals on Wednesday evening.

On Monday, the Spokesman for the SPLA-Juba faction Philip Aguer said government soldiers recaptured Malakal from rebels and that Juba inflicted heavy losses on rebel fighters.

The SPLA-IO appears not convinced by government version of Malakal fighting.

Johnson Wal Hoth, a high-ranking official with the military command of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), said Monday fighting in Malakal was basically a fight between South Sudanese rebels against SPLA-Juba with its foreign allies. He stated that soldiers of the SPLM/A-North, a Sudanese rebel movement fighting against Khartoum’s regime, were involved in the attack, adding that Juba soldiers and Ugandan air force also participated in the operation.

“Let me be clear, we know from our military intelligence department that SPLA-North and Ugandan air force were coming to help Kiir’s government. We know Kiir is paying Ugandan President and leaders of the SPLM/A/North to fight against us because he knows his forces can’t resist our forces; so this is not a new development and we are not surprised about it,” Johnson told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) in heavily militarized Pagak town.

“What we are surprised about is the fact that we withdrew our forces from the town before they came in…and surprisingly Juba went ahead and claimed that they have defeated us,” he said mockingly, adding that “the SPLA-North fighters have now withdrawn” from the Malakal.

The rebel military official reaffirms rebels’ commitment to peace and warned that the SPLA-IO is fully prepared and will launch “all-out war” if Juba does not changes what he described as “reckless behavior.”

Fighting broke out in December of 2013 between different units of presidential guards after months of political turmoil among senior leaders of the ruling SPLM party. South Sudanese President Kiir accused his chief-rival, Dr. Riek Machar, of orchestrating a military coup. Machar denied the accusation, saying Kiir planned the alleged coup in an attempt to try to purge his political opponents.

IGAD-led Peace talks between South Sudan’s warring factions have been ongoing in the Ethiopia. However, the talks lead to little or no success with fighting still raging.

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