South Sudan’s Rival Forces Clash in Central Equatoria State

SSPDF’s soldiers on a tank. Photo: File/Getty Images

Juba, December 27, 2020 (SSNA) — The Sudan People’s Liberation army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) and South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) have clashed in Central Equatoria State’s kajo-Keji county, SPLA-IO spokesman Brig. General William Gatjiath Deng says.

The SPLA-IO states that government soldiers launched surprised attacks on its Kirwa and Ajoh barracks at 6:00 am South Sudan time on Saturday and that SPLA-IO forces “neutralized and repulsed” the attacking SSPDF forces.

“Heavy attack is on, at “Kirwa” and “Ajoh” military base right now! This morning at around 6:00 AM, East African Time, the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) all under command of an autocratic regime sporadically attacked the mightiest Forces of Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) at Kirwa and Ajoh military garrisons, all situated at the outskirts of Kejo-kejo County,” General William Gatjiath said in a statement obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).

“The well-trained army of the SPLA (IO), all under command of Cdr. Maj. General John Mabieh Gaar, had responded more professionally, and indeed, neutralized and repulsed the huge expedition of the merciless militias, with no excuse, and pursued them in disarray toward Kejo-kejo,” the statement reads in part.

William added that the SPLA-IO killed at least 33 SSPDF soldiers, captured 7 RPGs, 78 AK-47s, and 25 PKMs in good condition. The SPLA-IO military spokesperson also revealed that they have captured some SSPDF soldiers alive but did not disclose the number of captured soldiers.

The attack comes barely a day after President Kiir about peace and unity at a peace-concert held in Juba. In his speech, the President also vowed to never return the country to war again.

The SPLA-IO asserts that SSPDF has been attacking its forces for months without good reason and urges the East African regional bloc, IGAD, to apply maximum pressure on Kiir to make sure peace is fully implemented. SPLA-IO spokesman also accuses Kiir of systematically impeding the implementation of the agreement and asserts that the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO “embraces peace and working hard to save South Sudan from what he described as “wild beasts.” The General also vowed that the SPLA-IO will keep protecting its territories from SSPDF.

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