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Saturday, Oct 25th, 2014

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Heavy fighting Erupts in South Sudan’s Upper Nile

Addis Ababa, October 10, 2014 (SSNA) -- Heavy fighting broke out between South Sudan's government soldiers and forces loyal to the former South Sudanese Vice president Dr. Riek Machar.

Heavy artillery shelling and machine gun fire were heard in and around Doleib Hill and Obele early Friday.

Rebels said their forces have captured Doleib and that they have inflicted heavy losses on government troops.

Meanwhile, the official spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, Philip Aguer dismissed rebels’ claim, saying that SPLA still controls large part of the Doleip.

Doleib Hill and Obel zones are located south of Malakal, the capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile State.

It is unclear which side started the fighting. However, both sides have already accused each other of breaking the truce.

Rebel sources told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) that government soldiers have been bombing their positions since early October, stressing that they have not started the recent fighting. Government sources also rejected rebels’ claims and stated that rebels have been bombarding their sites for days.

South Sudan Air Force Personnel Defected to the Rebels

Addis Ababa, September 13, 2014 (SSNA) -- Air Force military officers and Engineers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to South Sudanese president salva kiir Mayardiit have joined the rebels, saying their decision to join the SPLM/A-in Opposition is a result of lack of diversity in the army.

The officers also accused South Sudan’s government of tribalism.

In a press conference held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the defected personnel explained some of the reasons why they decided to leave the government’s side.

“…training opportunities for South Sudanese joining the Air Force does not reflect diversity; for instance, the first batch comprised of 32 pilots, 21 of which were from Dinka tribe, the remaining 63 tribes were represented by just 11 pilots”, the statement reads in part.

“…poor promotion policy: Officers who joined the Air Force in 2007 have never been promoted and in some situations, promotions are based on ethnicity, and Poor maintenance and services police, up to two-thirds of the fleet is grounded due to corrupt practices by successive Air Force Commanders who would misappropriate funds meant for maintenance and services”, the statement added.

The names of the defected personnel are:

1. 1st Lt. Tut Jock Bov, Chief Air Force, Ground Engineer
2. 1st Lt. Pito Adwok Nyaba, Fixed Wing Pilot
3. Sgt. Ocholla Joseph, Flight Engineer
4. Pvt. Khan David Bidit, MI-17 Helicopter Pilot
5. Pvt. Liech Domach Ruei, Air Traffic Controller 
6. Mr. Riang Ruei Duop, Senior Manager, South Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority

The Director of Military Information and Military Spokesman for the SPLA-in Opposition, Federal Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, praised the newly arrived officers. Koang declares that their defection will help reinforce the establishment of Air Force in the rebels’ controlled areas and counter the Ugandan air power.

“These are some of the best trained air servicemen; some of whom received training in South Africa, Ethiopia, Russia and the United States of America. Their defection to SPLA (Opposition) is a major blow to Juba. Their presence in the resistance movement will facilitate establishment of Air Force in liberated areas as well as help in countering UPDF’s Air force which had dominated the skies of South Sudan since the Civil War broke out on 15th December 2013”, Koang said in the statement seen by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).

The deserted SPLA personnel also said that the government of South Sudan used Air Force to transport Militias and SPLA regular soldiers who participated in the killing of innocent civilians in Juba late last year.

A militia group carries out targeted killings in Upper Nile; rebels accuse government of ‘complicity’

Addis Ababa, August 5, 2014 (SSNA) -- Early this week, a militia group calling itself Mabanese Defence Forces started ethnically based killings in the oil-rich Upper Nile State. The carnage left at least six people dead.

All the dead were humanitarian aid workers serving the needy people in and around Maban County, Upper Nile State.

At least six targeted killings were carried out on Monday and Tuesday by the militia faction; some employees were ambushed and at least one person was forced out of a car and shot to death by the group, according to humanitarian sources in Upper Nile.

The South Sudan News Agency has confirmed Gabriel Yien Gach as one of those killed. Gach was taken out of his employer’s car and shot to death by members of the Maban-based militia.

Mr. Gach, a Nuer by tribe, was working for the Norwegian aid agency, the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).

Meanwhile, the South Sudanese rebels said they are aware of the existence of the Maban militia group which carried out the killings and that they are not surprised, adding that Juba has been training, financing, and arming the Mabanese Defence Forces for months.

“We are aware of the fact that the genocidal regime of Salva Kiir has been training, financing, and arming this group; only [uninformed] South Sudanese will disagree [with our intelligence finding]”, a senior rebel official who prefers anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media told the South Sudan News Agency.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) condemns the killings and raises concern about the operations of aid agencies in Maban County.

“Elements of this militia have been moving around the town, approaching offices of humanitarian organizations and asking if they have any Nuer employees”, the UN said in a press statement.

“Such crimes put the humanitarian operation in Maban at risk, jeopardizing the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children who count on aid organizations for their survival”, Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan Warns.

At least one million people have fled their homes and hundreds of thousands more fled to the neighboring countries, according to the United Nations (UN).

Peace negotiations between the warring factions have been ongoing in the Ethiopian capital—the talks lead to little or no success with fighting still raging.

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