Speaking to journalists during a press conference in Juba on Tuesday, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang denied that the army was involved in the attacks, saying the conflict between the communities of Twic and Ngok has been recurrent.
JUBA – South Sudan’s army on Tuesday refuted claims by the government of Abyei Special Administrative Area that it was involved in Sunday’s attack in which armed men suspected to have come from Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal launched assault from different directions.
Abyei government’s secretary-general Arou Manyiel Arou had told Sudans Post while the attacks were ongoing that the assaults were being supported by elements from the 3rd infantry division of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State under Gen. Akuei Ajou.
But speaking to journalists during a press conference in Juba on Tuesday, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang denied that the army was involved in the attacks, saying the conflict between the communities of Twic and Ngok has been recurrent.
“I would like to take this opportunity to announce to all the listeners of various radio stations that are here now and to all the media outlets that SSPDF forces were not involved in the recurrent clashes between the two rival communities,” he said.
He said that the two communities have been fighting for a long time and that the problem is well-known to the national government. He said that a high-level committee was formed under the leadership of Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi to address the problem.
“We would like to make it very clear that we are not involved in the recurrent crisis,” he said.
The senior army office said that the SSPDF has been a victim of the violence, with four of its bases being attacked. He said that the SSPDF has not issued any statements accusing any of the rival factions because it does not want to “muddy the dirty water.”
“Even on the 13th of this month, Ayok military base was attacked where we lost dozens of security personnel,” Koang said.
“Even weapons were seized, and part of the barrack was overrun. Some Tukuls were set alight. But we did not issue a statement accusing any of the rival factions, but not because we do not know who was responsible,” he added.
He said that SSPDF is not allowed to operate within the Abyei, which is an area that is supposed to be demilitarized based on agreements with Sudan.
Lul said that the SSPDF is complying with the agreement and that the joint force that was deployed to Abyei “was deployed outside of the Abyei area to act as a buffer zone between the two rival groups.”
“We are committed to the peace agreement, and we will not do anything to jeopardize it,” he said.
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