Friday, May 22, 2015

S. Sudan rebels claim capture of Mundri town, officials deny

 Friday 22 May 2015

S. Sudan rebels claim capture of Mundri town, officials deny

May 22, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – The South Sudanese rebel faction led by former vice president, Riek Machar, claimed their forces have captured Mundri town in Western Equatoria state.

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Western Equatoria’s information minister Charles Kisanga (ST/File photo)
“The spokesperson in the office of the chairman and commander-in-chief,SPLM/SPLA, do hereby announce the capture today [Friday] of Mundri town in Western Equatoria state by our gallant forces under the overall command of Major General Elias Lako Jada,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak said in a statement issued on Friday evening.

He said Mundri town, about 200km west of the country’s capital, was strategic since it links Juba to the state capital, Yambio.

“We congratulate our freedom fighters for the victory,” said Dak, adding that more details on the matter would follow later.
But Western Equatoria’s information minister, Charles Kisanga dismissed the rebels’ claims, saying the entire Mundri county remains under government control.

Meanwhile, a top state official was Friday killed after unknown gunmen opened fire at his convey as he returned from the scene of an earlier attack in Mundri West county.

Kisanga said the executive director for Mundri West, John Keliopa met his fate after visiting the scene where government troops traveling to Lakes state were attacked.

“The council [of ministers] agreed unanimously that this was another assassination of a top Western Equatoria official, condemned it in the strongest term possible and ordered thorough investigation into the killing”, Kisanga told Sudan Tribune Friday.

He said the council of state ministers, during their emergency meeting, further discussed the deteriorating security situation in the state, especially around Mundri.

“Since yesterday the security situation around Mundri was very fluid, particularly in the evening after some SPLA soldiers arrived in the area using Maridi roads junction and set camp for night on their way to Lakes state,” Kisanga disclosed.

The minister said an attack on SPLA soldiers occurred Friday night at about 2:00 am [local time], resulting into two fatalities and some injuries.

“In the morning, the commissioner plus the executive director, John Keliopa rushed to the scene to investigate the shooting and deaths and see how to take the bodies of the dead soldiers to Mundri. While at the scene, unknown gunman opened fire on the officials and resulting in fatal shooting of the executive director”, he explained.

State officials described the late Keliopa as a hero who stood for justice among citizens, citing his stand on insecurity caused by cattle keepers in Mundri last year.
The former executive director acted as the Mundri West commissioner when the latter resigned earlier this year and served until the current commissioner was appointed.
He reportedly faced several threats from various communities, but maintained steadfast.

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