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S. Sudan rebels claim 38 government soldiers killed on battle field.

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 26, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) -- South Sudan rebels led by former vice-president, Riek Machar have claimed that 38 government soldiers were killed in the battle fields of Ayot and Nhial Diu in Jonglei and Unity states respectively.

Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar march through a village inside rebel-controlled territory in South Sudan's Upper Nile state on 9 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Rebel spokesperson Lony T Ngundeng told Sudan Tribune that rebel forces had managed to repulse attacks on Wednesday by the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in both areas.

According to Ngundeng, SPLA forces attacked rebel positions in Ayot and had also been seen planting land mines in the area, but opposition forces blocked their advance.

He said 14 PKM machine guns were captured from SPLA forces during Wednesday's fighting in Unity state capital Bentiu, currently under government control.

However Ngundeng said it was "just a matter of time" until rebel forces entered the town.

The rebels said there had been no casualties from their side in either Bentiu or Ayot.

SPLA press assistant Dickson Gatluak Jock Nyuot said government forces have erected fences in a number of areas, including Ruenk, Ayot and Adar towns, to prevent rebel forces from entering their bases.

Meanwhile, fresh fighting was also reported around Bentiu on Tuesday, with both rival forces accusing each other of instigating the clashes.

Rebels claimed government forces had moved out of their base in Bentiu towards Nhialdiu area, a rebel-held territory in Unity state, resulting in clashes erupting between the two forces.

Ngundeng dismissed comments by SPLA spokesperson Colonel Philip Aguer that the army had acted in response to the attack on Bentiu, saying government forces had acted first.

He claimed SPLA forces had fanned out from Bentiu, trying to move south towards Guit, Nhial Diu, Koch, Mayandiit and Leer counties, clashing with rebel forces en route.

He said Wednesday's clashes around Ayot town were the result of an offensive by the government.

(ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Mar 27, 2015
Words:343
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