Fighting intensifies in Unity State as rebels withdraw from Nhialdiu

Pagak, November 18, 2015 (SSNA) — South Sudan’s government forces on Tuesday attacked rebel outposts in strategic Nhialdiu town and Buaw Payam of the oil-rich Unity State, rebel military command has said.

Rebels said they have made a ‘tactical withdrawal” from Nhialdiu after repetitive attacks from the government forces.

The military assaults came barely a day after the armed opposition said its troops were attacked on Monday by government soldiers in Nhialdiu with both sides trading accusations of ceasefire violations, despite the IGAD-Plus’s compromise peace agreement and the recently signed “security arrangements” deal.

The SPLA-IO stated that it decided to withdraw from its locations after Juba sent reinforcements from government-controlled areas, adding that Juba extended its operation to the rebel-held Buaw Payam of Koch County on Tuesday afternoon.

“…the SPLA/Juba faction extended its offensive on SPLA/IO forces in Buaw Payam in Koch County this afternoon [Tuesday]. The government got reinforcement from Panakuach, Bentui, Wangkei and attacked our position[s] in Tuochluak and Buaw this evening. Therefore, our forces made [a] tactical withdrawal [from] the above mentioned areas,” a statement from rebel military command reads in part.

Rebels also accuse South Sudanese government troops of starting the attack, saying Juba is the one that began its aggression against the SPLA-IO and that the first attack by government soldiers against rebel forces was launched last Sunday in Gaatdoor located in southern tip of Leer County and then followed by other attacks on rebel positions in Nhialdiu, Tuocluak, and thuokyierlok.

The armed opposition calls on the IGAD-Plus and the international community to put maximum pressure on Juba to stop what it described as "kiir’s attempt to destroy peace."

Fierce fighting between South Sudan’s rival forces in and around Nhialdiu has intensified and continuing, the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has learned.

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