Forces fighting under the banner of deposed South Sudan first vice president Riek Machar say they have captured Nasir town near the Ethiopian border.
According to reports, Machar’s forces captured the town Monday afternoon after heavy fighting with government troops.
However, SPLA denied losing the town saying fighting is still ongoing.
SPLA officials contacted on ground in Nasir say that they are involved in some fighting and have not lost the town, National Courier reported.
SPLA IO sources claim many heavy weapons have been abandoned by the retreating SPLA forces.
Dukhan Jundit Both, a spokesman of SPLM/SPLA-IO in the county, told Nyamilipedia, Kiir’s forces have attacked their position Sunday morning outside Nasir town of Upper Nile State.
“Salva Kiir Mayardit SPLM_Juba is on offensive again for third time in our defensive positions in Nasir County,” Both said.
“This month the president Kiir force had attacked our forces twice on 7th and 8th July, 2016 just after the fighting broke out in Juba between the bodyguards of First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar-Teny, and president Salva Kiir’s presidential guards in Palace or J1.”
Both said government troops were shelling SPLA-IO forces around Nasir in Ketbek, Dhording ,Koat, Nordeng and Wangboup areas at Kuetrengke Payam.
“Let the world know that shelling our position by Salva Kiir forces since 4:30 am today on Sunday, is a clear violation of peace as they did last week by appointing their friend General Taban Deng Gai as illegitimate first vice president in Juba.”
Nasir is a small town in Upper Nile state, in the Greater Upper Nile region of northeastern South Sudan.
The town is on the north side of the Sobat River, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the Ethiopian border. It is the administrative center of Luakpiny/Nasir County.
SPLA-Nasir, a splinter faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army active from 1991 to 1994, derived their name from the town because it was their base.
In 1991, Machar used Nasir as his base of operations. He also made it his headquarters in the 2013 civil war before being dislodged by Kiir’s forces.
Siege of Juba
Also over the weekend, Machar moved his troops and surrounded the capital Juba threatening to take it anytime if a regional force is not deployed in South Sudan.
“As our chairman declared on 14/7/2016 ,SPLM IO is awaiting the arrival of the third party forces from IGaD to be buffer zone between the two rivals army in juba,” Both said on Sunday.
Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said their forces were fighting in self-defence after which they captured 21 military trucks with their logistics, including food belonging to enemy forces.
“Juba is besieged from different directions as we speak. We call for deployment of the proposed third force in Juba, or else we will be forced to act further and march to Juba in order to restore peace and security in the capital,” Dak said.
Kiir rejects call
However, Michael Makuei, the minister of information says that President Kiir hasn’t changed his position unlike what JMEC chair told BBC and said in a press statement.
He said the government had never rejected deployment of Personal Protection Force for Riek Machar.
He revealed that this was also discussed by President Kiir and President Museveni when they met earlier in the week.
He said that “incase Riek Machar comes back he can be accorded protection by a third party force if he so wishes.”
He said that in the agreement, Article 5.4 allows for deployment of Personal Protection Force for Riek Machar if he wants assuming that the IO allows him to resume the chairmanship.
He said the cabinet has decided to not accept additional forces outside the agreement.