A senior government commander was killed in an ambush by unknown gunmen in Upper Nile State yesterday north of the state capital Malakal, according to military sources.
Major-Gen. James Bugo was second in command to Johnson Olony, who led an independent Shilluk militia from 2011-2013 and has since been integrated into the SPLA at the rank of major-general.
The commander was ambushed on Wednesday in the Abanim area on the road between Malakal and Akoka, according to a military source within the Olony forces who declined to be named.
He said that the military leadership dispatched Bugo on a reconnaissance mission to the area after clashes between Shilluk and Dinka tribesmen yesterday when he was ambushed by gunmen allegedly belonging to the ‘white army’ militia of the Dinka of Akoka County.
He died with at least 12 other soldiers.
News of the killing reportedly increased tensions in the capital Malakal, where both Shilluks and Dinkas live together and where the pro-government Olony forces have played a critical role in defending the city from Nuer forces that attacked the city last year from the southeast.
Olony’s forces are sometimes described as a pro-government ‘militia’ and other times as a formal part of the army.
Upper Nile State officials speaking to Radio Tamazuj have denied that any formal separation still exists between the Olony forces and the army.
Meanwhile, a group of anti-war protesters gathered in the South Sudanese capital, Juba today, calling on the country’s government to recommit to the peace process.
The rally and prayer event was organised by the Women’s Monthly Forum on Peace Process and Working Women Association of the University of Juba.
The women reportedly requested the government to resume negotiations to find a lasting solution to the current conflict.