South Sudanese rebels report more government defections

February 6, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/A In Opposition) have claimed more defections from government troops to the rebels side in Lakes state.

The military spokesperson for the rebels, Brig Lul Ruai Koang, in a press release seen by the Sudan Tribune said over 700 government troops defected from Rumbek East county at Kerich village in the central Lakes state on 5th February, killing many government’s troops including the commander of the force in the area.

He said the defection occurred when the government was trying to launch yet another attack on the position of the rebels in the neighbouring Unity state in violation of the ceasefire agreement recently signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“Kiir’s army experienced this internal revolt at Kerich village in Rumbek East County in Lakes state while on transit to attack our forces at Panyijiar County in the neighbouring Unity state,” the rebels’ spokesperson said.

He pointed out that a new commander immediately took over and fought their way through up to Unity state.

“Major Changkuoth Puok then took over the command of the servicemen and joined the rebellion with their equipment,” he said, adding that the mutinied soldiers took with them 16 trucks and land cruisers, some mounted with 12.7, 14.5 and Zoo 23 heavy weapons.

Koang further accused the Ugandan army of interfering with the fighting in Lakes state, saying their helicopter gunships carried out the bombing in the area.

“While the fighting was raging on between the divided army, the Ugandan’s gunships and attack helicopters conducted air interdictions and close air support in support of Kiir’s troops,” he said, adding that the mission by the helicopter gunships however failed to achieve the desired fire effects and instead ended in failure.

Koang said the hundreds of the mutinied soldiers will join up with the rebel forces of division 4 under the overall command of Maj. Gen. James Koang Chol.

REBEL POSITIONS TARGETED NEAR MALAKAL

[More-Sudan Tribune]