South Sudan army to ascertain equipment captured from SAF

May 13, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan has asked its Ministry of Defense to investigate the number, type and origin of military equipment captured from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the disputed oil-rich area of Panthou/Heglig.

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South Sudan’s army, or the SPLA, soldiers load a Soviet-made T-72 tank into a truck in Halop, Unity state, April 24, 2012. (Reuters)

South Sudan’s army (SPLA) captured and occupied Panthou/Heglig town and its oilfields for 10 days from April 10-20, much to the anger of Khartoum and drawing strong criticism from the international community.

The SPLA says it withdrew voluntarily on April 20 due to international pressure taking with it military equipment including over a hundred vehicles, military tanks and fuel tanks containing millions of litres of fuel among other items. Khartoum says it forced the SPLA from the area killing over 1,000 Southern soldiers.

The head of the SPLA’s information department, Brig. Malaak Ayuen, announced on South Sudan state television that over 120 vehicles were captured from the area, however, the exact number and types is not yet known.

The National Mobilization Committee has asked the ministry of defense to ascertain the number of the equipment captured to the relevant authority as part of the efforts to mobilize and manage the materiel resources to fight the border war.

The two sides continue to express possibility of all-out war over the borderline and also accuse each other of supporting rebels to topple their respective governments.

On Thursday South Sudan announced as “evidence” the defection of a group of militias backed by the Sudanese government in Upper Nile state .

The 215 well equipped force with 10 mounted pick-up trucks and one lorry under the command of Major General John Duit Yiech decided to join the SPLA force commanded by Col. John Wiyual Rutkoch at the oil-rich Palluj area in northern part of Upper Nile state.

Yiech revealed that they joined the SPLA and frustrated Khartoum’s plan which instructed them to attack Nasir and Maiwut counties in order to block access between Upper Nile and the Ethiopian region of Gambella.

Khartoum has always denied supporting rebels fighting the government of South Sudan.

Malaak who welcomed the defecting forces told the press that the forces and their equipment were clear evidence to the world that Khartoum was actually arming South Sudanese rebels to fight Juba.

The SPLA’s commander at Palluj oilfields, John Wiyual, who negotiated the defection said the defected militia forces will be transferred to the army’s division 7 under the command of Major General Gony Bilieu, in northern Upper Nile.

Sudanese officials accuse the South Sudanese government of harbouring rebel groups including Darfur movements and their former comrades who are now fighting Khartoum in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.


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