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JUBA - 7 Aug 2019

NAS says government forces planning to launch attacks

File photo: General Thomas Cirillo
File photo: General Thomas Cirillo

The opposition National Salvation Front (NAS) has claimed that government forces are planning to launch attacks on its positions in the Central Equatoria region.

The holdout group, in a statement extended to Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday, claimed government troops are planning to launch another military campaign on its positions.

“According to the NAS military intelligence, the SSPDF [South Sudan People’s Defense Force] is planning to attack NAS positions in the three (3) axis of Jebel Lado and Terekeka on the western bank of the Nile and Mangalla on the eastern bank,” said NAS spokesman, Suba  Samuel Manase.

Samuel pointed out that the planned military operations are intended to divert the attention of the people of South Sudan and the international community from the government’s failure to bring about a sustainable peace.

However, the rebel spokesman said NAS forces are closely monitoring the movements of government forces, including their allies.

The opposition group said it would fight back in self-defense.

Separately, Samuel said government troops on 2 August shelled an area they suspected to be NAS position in Lowi hills of Eastern Equatoria, killing of two innocent civilians and injuring three others.

The group also reiterated its commitment to the cessation of hostilities agreement.

But the army spokesman, Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, denied plans to launch attacks on NAS positions. “What happened in Jebel Lado last week was an attack by armed robbers, so we went there to protect the citizens. We don’t know that those armed robbers are loyal to NAS,” he said.

Lul further said the government is not aware of the presence of rebel fighters loyal to General Thomas Cirillo in Mangalla and Jebel Lado areas.

The military spokesman stressed that the army has a constitutional mandate to protect its citizens.

Several armed groups, including those led by former military chief Paul Malong and General Thomas Cirillo are not part of the revitalised peace deal signed last year.