Clashes between the SPLA and SPLA-In Opposition broke out in Leer town of South Sudan’s Unity state, despite a supposed ceasefire called by the belligerents in the capital Juba.
James Yuach, SPLA-IO spokesperson for Unity state, told Radio Tamazuj that their forces fell under heavy attack by government forces in the morning at Kaigai payam.
“Yes there was a clash since morning by the government forces at around 7:00 am today. The government forces attacked us at Kaigai area, and as you know Kaigai is our cantonment area in eastern Leer and our forces tried to repulse. Of course we are for defensive,” he said.
The government’s information minister for the area, Peter Makuoth, as well as SPLA spokesperson Lul Ruai, both failed to respond to Radio Tamazuj’s requests for response to the accusation.
Meanwhile, fighting continued later that day, preventing the Red Cross from landing a plane to evacuate aid workers caught in the violence.
According to sources, hundreds of civilians fled to the UNMISS base in Leer town, and are camped outside the site.
Another IO official in the area accused the government of attacking Kaigai because it is on the way to Thonyoor, the IO headquarters in Leer. He claimed that his side was aware of the impending alleged attack and repulsed the force.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The second IO official further accused the government of mobilizing in Mayendit county to the west of Leer and preparing to attack Dablual.
Leer is the birthplace of SPLA-IO leader Riek Machar.
The town was twice devastated by offensives led by government SPLA forces, first in 2014 with the assistance of the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement rebels, and again in 2015 with assistance of Bul and Jagei Nuer militia.
Thousands of civilians were killed in those offensives.