JUBA — South Sudan’s main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) has confirmed that it forces have fled northern Upper Nile state and moved to Sudan after clashes with rival SPLA-IO forces led by General Simon Gatwech Dual who broke away from the group in August last year.
Over the weekend, General Gatwech’s group claimed that it had overrun several military bases belonging to the SPLA-IO forces allied to First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, saying SPLA-IO sector one commanders under Gen. Yak Dayiem had surrendered their guns to the Sudanese army after they were defeated from northern Upper Nile.
In a statement on Monday afternoon, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the spokesman of the SPLA-IO led by FVP Machar confirmed that their forces have fled to Sudan, but only to avoid further clashes, denying that their forces have surrendered to the Sudanese forces.
“After the attack of Amud on 28/12/2021, the kitgwang negative force combined with mercenaries from Nuba Mountains continued their antipeace campaign against the SPLA-IO in Amud 2 and Gabat from 29th – 31st/12/2021. This prompted the SPLA-IO Command to direct the SPLA-IO forces to move to Sudan territory to avoid further clashes,” Lam said in the statement.
“The SPLA-IO therefore, would like to clarify to it’s members, supporters and the South Sudanese citizens that its forces didn’t surrender to the SSPDF in Kuek or to SAF. They are in Sudan territory just to avoid further bloodshed and displacement to the civilians in Northern Upper Nile,” he added.
The senior SPLA-IO officer further accused Gen. Gatwech Dual’s forces of trying to attack an opposition cantonment site at Thorguang, an area in northern Upper Nile state.
“Furthermore, this morning the 03/01/2022, at about 9:00am, the negative elements of Kitgwang moved their forces towards Thorguang cantonment site which is under the command and control of the JDB to cause more lost of lives and further displacement of civilians therein,” he said.
“The SPLA-IO is therefore, informing the CTSAMVM of this planned attack in Thorguang cantonment site. The SPLA-IO is closely monitoring the activities of the Kitgwang elements much as it continues to implement the Security Arrangement.”