JUBA – Forces belong to South Sudan opposition commander and leader of the Agwelek faction Gen. Johnson Olony Thuba on Monday morning too control of the SPLA-IO base in Atar, a top opposition commander allied to Olony claims.
Gen. Thomas Mabor Dhol, a member of the SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction under Gen. Johnson Olony said the attack was necessary because forces belonging to First Vice President D. Riek Machar Teny have continued shelling their bases across the western part of the River Nile.
“We have captured Atar and this is not because we are not for peace. It is because our forces and bases in the other side [of the river Nile] has came for several days under SPLA-IO bombs. So, we went there to stop further bombardment from the SPLA-IO of Riek Machar,” Gen. Mabor told Sudans Post on phone.
SPLA-IO spokesman Col. Lam Paul Gabriel was not immediately available for comment.
Went contacted by Sudans Post, General Simon Gatwech Dual’s group distanced itself from the fighting and said the battle was between Gen. Johnson Olony’s forces and the main armed opposition group under First Vice President Machar.
“We are not involved in that fighting and I cannot say who attacked who first, but there was fighting yesterday and the Agwelek under Olony has captured Atar from the SPLA-IO of Dr. Riek and this is the preliminary information we received from our intelligence services,” Brig. Gen. Gach Thot, the spokesman of SPLA-IO Kitgwang told Sudans Post.
“So, that is happening and all the claims that we are attacking anybody in Upper Nile state is not true. We are a peaceful group and we usually response to attacks which is our legitimate right to self-defense,” the senior opposition officer added.