Malakal, January 12, 2014 (SSNA) -- Fighting broke out on Saturday in one of SPLA’s barracks located around the Upper Nile State capital, Malakal. The skirmish took place in Doleib, one of the SPLA’s garrisons located south of Malakal.
Sources close to the SPLA told the South Sudan News Agency that the fighting began when some soldiers within Doleib battalion switched their allegiance from President Salva Kiir to the Former Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar.
Meanwhile, the Commander of the Seventh Division, Lt. General Johnson Gony Biliu was ambushed by the rebels on Saturday evening. The surprise attack happened just outside Baliet County. His driver and some of his Bodyguards were killed in the trap; his whereabouts is unknown as some reports suggest he may have been wounded in the assault.
However, a well placed source inside the SPLA Division 7 confirmed that the ambush took place on a road near Baliet but denied that the General was wounded.
“Lt. Gen. Johnson Gony was traveling with his convoy when unexpectedly rebels came out of nowhere and started firing at their vehicles, he [Johnson Gony] is alive and well”, the source said.
“Those who want to kill him with their tongues should keep their bad words to themselves”, the source continues.
In another development, sources inside the United Nations compound just outside Malakal confirmed to the SSNA that the Governor of the oil-rich Upper State, Simon Kun Puoch, is now a resident of the UNMISS.
“The Governor is right here with us, I even know his block number”, Peter Gatriey told the SSNA.
In a surprise contention, a senior state government official explained the presence of the Governor in the United Nations compound as “routine”, asserting that any state Governor can go to UNMISS, and discribed an Eyewitness's statement as “nonsense”.
What impelled the Governor to take refuge at the UN compound is yet to be determined.
But Peter added that an imminent rebels’ attack on the state capital could be the reason behind the Governor’s decision to take refuge at the UNMISS.
Rebels advance toward Malakal
Residents of Malakal have left the city for the United Nations compound due to a looming attack by the rebel forces.
Reports suggest that rebels are moving toward Malakal from different directions and their main goal is to retake the town from the government soldiers.
Fighting erupted in Juba on the 15th of December 2013, between different units of presidential guards just one day after senior members of the ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) party walked out of the National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting on December 14; calling the process as “undemocratic”.
Heavy fighting between rebel forces and government troops is still ongoing in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile States.
Peace talks are underway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. But, the two warring factions are trading political blows in what appear to be a set-back for the peace efforts