South Sudan army repulses "militia" attack in Upper Nile
April 27, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s army (SPLA) said on Friday it has repulsed an attack allegedly carried out by a Sudanese-backed rebel group on Upper Nile State.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday, the rebel South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) claimed the capture Fashoda at 7:00 am local time and surrounding Malakal the capital of Upper Nile state.
“A battalion under the command of Maj. Gen. Yohannes Ukich managed to capture Wau Shilluk and Bukieny, which is across the White Nile river and is opposite to Malakal international airport,” the rebels further said.
SPLA spokesperson, Philip Aguer, told reporters on Friday that “Khartoum-backed militia groups fighting [a] proxy war for [the] Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in Upper Nile State” were “repulsed”.
“Our gallant SPLA forces pushed them backed into Sudanese territories and gained control of the area”, he said.
The military official said he was still waiting for details of the fighting because it was still continuing as the attackers were being pursued.
“There are no details on casualties because our forces are still following them. They are still being pursued,” said Aguer.
Sudan and South Sudan’s border has been the scene of intense fighting of the last three weeks with the SPLA briefly capturing the disputed Heglig oil region from the Sudanese military (SAF).
He accused Khartoum of supporting rebel militias with intention to destabilise the new nation of South Sudan.
“They realised that they can no longer stand any battle with SPLA at any cost so they have decided to use militia groups to fight on their behalf just to destabilise security situations of our civil population along the border areas. It is not that they know these militias have capacity to fight”, he said
Both nations trade accusations of backing rebels in each others’ territory. Khartoum accuses Juba of backing Darfur rebels and SPLM-N who fight the Sudanese army in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Reacting to Aguer, minister of Information and Sudanese government spokesperson Ali Masar told the official SUNA that Sudan has no connection with the attacks carried out by rebel in Upper Nile describing it as internal differences between South Sudanese.
The minister further dismissed that Sudan’s warplanes bombarded Unity state of South Sudan, saying “if we want to do that, we would have destroyed their oil facilities which are close to us.”
A Sudanese media outlet close to the Sudanese intelligence and security services (SMC) accused this week South Sudan of bombing Unity State by Ugandan military planes to appear as a victim of Sudanese aggression and regain the international sympathy.
However, UN and independent observers confirmed that Sudanese army carried out air attacks on the capital of Unity State Bentiu during the last weekend and Monday of this week.
UN Security Council said considering a draft resolution aiming to back an African Union’s decision calling the Sudanese parties to resume talks on the outstanding issues and to reach an agreement within three months.