Pagak/Juba, July 27, 2017 (SSNA) — A heavy fighting between South Sudan’s warring factions has erupted in Upper Nile’s historic city, Maiwut, forcing civilians to flee their homes, both rebel and government military officials have told the South Sudan News Agency Thursday.
The disclosure comes as both factions claim control of Maiwut.
Government forces said they have captured Maiwut and that they are heading towards the rebel headquarters, Pagak.
A senior military officer who prefers anonymity at Bilpham headquarters in Juba said the national army (SPLA) is now in full control of Maiwut.
“The rebels of Riek Machar are dislodged from Maiwut. Maiwut is now under our full control,” the officer told the South Sudan News Agency in Juba.
However, SPLA-IO 5th Division Commander Maj. General Khor Chuol Giet downplays government’s claim, saying some Juba-backed soldiers were instructed to go to Maiwut through bushes and declared its capture, adding, “We were in the middle of fighting with government forces around Wichluakjak when they suddenly surprised civilians in the city. We are fully aware of the situation. Our unit in Maiwut is engaging them.”
Maj. Gen. Khor asserted that capturing Maiwut will never bring peace. He added that the armed opposition is prepared to wage what he described as “an all-out war” in Upper Nile and warned of “second Somalia in East Africa.”
The South Sudan News Agency has also learned through a confidential source that the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai is not happy about the recent news about the revitalization of the August 2015 peace agreement.
Gai wants the government to control both Maiwut and Pagak so that he can tell the international community that he is now in full control of the SPLM/A-IO, according to the source.
A senior rebel official calls Gai’s plan “desperate.”
“This is a desperate move by Taban. His dream to become the leader of the SPLM/A-IO will not happen,” Simon Keah Yiey said.
“Taban should know that Bentiu has been under government control for at least a year and yet no peace has been achieved,” he explained.
Attempts by the South Sudan News Agency to reach the office of the SPLA-IO Spokesman Brig. Gen. William Gatjiath Deng went unanswered.