The National Salvation Front (NAS), in a press statement yesterday, said that the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) attacked and briefly overrun their tactical base in Lobonok, a claim the SSPDF refuted, reports Radio Tamazuj.
“On the 10th November 2020, forces of SSPDF from Kerpeto in Lobonok County attacked NAS tactical base and briefly managed to push NAS forces to make a tactical withdrawal,” The NAS mouthpiece, Mr Samuel Manase Suba, said.
“However, the NAS gallant forces launched a successful counterattack securing the base sending the enemy running back in disarray,” he added.
Mr Suba claimed nine SSPDF soldiers were killed in action and several others wounded.
“NAS captured 2 RPG 7 launchers, 2 PKM machine guns, and 6 AK 47 rifles, several rounds of ammunition and shells were also captured in good condition and 2 NAS combatants were martyred and two others sustained injuries,” he said.
According to Mr Suba, “This cowardly act came at the time when there is on-going Ceasefire and Transitional Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) workshop between the government and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOMA) in Rome, Italy.”
The acting SSPDF spokesman,Mr Santo Domic, rubbished NAS’s claims. He told Radio Tamzuj in a telephone interview that elements of NAS attacked SSPDF defensive positions in Lobonok.
“It happened yesterday on the 10 of November at 5 AM. Elements of NAS attacked a defensive position of SSPDF and then again at 10 AM they attacked two SSPDF defensive positions and our soldiers were not aware of impending attacks because of the prevailing ceasefire and some have been living with their civilian families in the barracks. Four civilians, a woman, two children, and an adult male, were killed in the ensuing fire exchange yesterday,” Mr Domic said.
He added, “So our forces returned fire and repulsed the NAS attack leaving two attackers dead. We found them on the ground with their rifles.”
Mr Domic said that since the signing of the Rome declaration earlier this year the SSPDF expected NAS to respect the cessation of hostilities deal and positions so that if there is any violation then the ceasefire monitors can move and authenticate it.
“We as SSPDF have a commitment to the government’s stand that all the problems of South Sudan be resolved peacefully and abide by the cessation of hostilities which NAS has been violating in areas of Yei, Jambo, Lobonok, etc,” Domic said.
SSOMA pulls out of Rome workshop
Following the clashes yesterday, the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA)- Cirillo faction suspended its participation in the CTSAMVM workshop which was underway in Rome.
“SSOMA would like to inform its members, supporters, regional and international community, and more importantly the people of South Sudan that President Kiir and his government lack the political will for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. SSOMA and the government of South Sudan had signed the Rome Resolution to recommit to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement on 12th January 2020,” SSOMA’s statement read in part.
SSOMA accused the government of multiple attacks on their defensive positions including yesterday’s attack while the two sides seek sustainable peace in Rome.
The statement continued, “SSOMA’s participation in this workshop is technical and informational and above all was intended to build trust between SSOMA and the government and to create a conducive environment for further negotiations.”
According to SSOMA, this recent violation is the last straw RTGoNU has demonstrated in their lack of political will, to the recommitment to CoHA and in building trust.
“Therefore, effective immediately, SSOMA is suspending its participation in CTSAMVM workshop in Rome until RTGoNU respects and commits itself to CoHA.”
SSOMA signed off by reiterating its commitment to the Rome Peace Process under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio as the genuine vehicle to sustainable peace in the Republic of South Sudan.