News / Africa

South Sudan Rebels Claim Recapture of Malakal

  • A South Sudan army soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, 497km (298 miles) northeast of capital Juba, December 30, 2013 a few days after retaking the town from rebel fighters. Rebel forces said Tuesday, Jan. 14, that they had retaken Malakal after days of clashes with government troops.
  • The city of Malakal rests on the bank of the White Nile River, South Sudan.
  • A pirogue packed with passengers arrives at a dock after crossing a waterway near the town of Malakal, seen from an airplane over South Sudan, Dec. 30, 2013. Around 200 people drowned Sunday when a boat carrying them away from the fighting in Malakal sank on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014.
  • The battle for Malakal came as representatives for both sides in the South Sudan conflict hold peace talks in Addis Ababa. Members of South Sudan rebel delegation are shown at the opening ceremony of the talks on Jan. 4, 2014.
  • South Sudanese soldiers listen during a briefing at the army general headquarters in Juba, Jan. 8, 2014.
  • Displaced people walk past razor wire at Tomping camp, near Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • A soldier with the Sudan People's Liberation Army - the army of the Republic of South Sudan - is pictured behind a South Sudan flag as he sits on the back of a pick-up truck in Bentiu, Unity state, Jan. 12, 2014.Bentiu was recaptured by government forces on Jan. 10.
  • An ostrich runs through empty streets and past destroyed buildings in Bentiu, Unity state, after government forces on Jan. 10, 2014 retook the town from rebel forces.
  • South Sudanese army soldiers are seen guarding Malakal town, 497km (308 miles) northeast of capital Juba, Dec. 30, 2013 after retaking the town from rebel fighters.
South Sudan Rebels Claim Malakal Recaptured
Lucy Poni
Rebel forces loyal to former South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar recaptured the town of Malakal Tuesday, a spokesman for Machar announced to delegates at talks aimed at ending the violence in the world's newest nation.

“I have just received confirmation from our field commander that the SPLM/SPLA forces under the direct command of Major-General Gathoth Gathkuoth have recaptured the strategic town of Malakal, the capital of oil-rich Upper Nile state," Brigadier-General Lul Ruai Koang, Machar's military spokesman, said.

"Our forces are still pursuing Salva Kiir’s forces,” Ruai said in Addis Ababa, where the two sides in the month-old conflict are holding peace talks.

Fighting has been raging in and around Malakal since Sunday. Ruai said government troops were likely among some 200 people who drowned when a crowded boat sank as it carried people fleeing the fighting across the White Nile River.

“Government forces were chased, some towards Akoka. Our forces are still pursuing them. Some of them crossed the river. So the people who are said to have drowned in the river, I am sure some of them are government forces,” he said.

Ruai said the general in charge of government troops in Malakal, Johnson Gony Beliu, abandoned his soldiers and fled to Juba with Upper Nile state Governor Simon Kun Pouch.

It was impossible to confirm Ruai's claims with independent sources or with the army.

Rebels vow to keep oil flowing

The capital of Upper Nile state, which produces the bulk of South Sudan's oil, has already changed hands twice since South Sudan was engulfed in unrest last month when an attack by renegade soldiers on an army headquarters in Juba  quickly spread around the country.

Heavy fighting was reported in Malakal on Tuesday morning as the rebel forces launched a final assault on government positions.

Ruai said that recapturing Malakal has given the rebels control of South Sudan’s oil,  which could give them a better bargaining tool at the peace talks in Addis Ababa.

But that was not the reason they launched their offensive on the strategic town, he said.

“We are not doing this so as to strengthen our position at the negotiations.  We are doing this because we have been attacked several times,” he said.

Ruai said the rebel forces will ensure that oil production continues in Upper Nile, which produces around 85 percent of South Sudan's oil, the backbone of the young country's economy.

Before a disagreement with Khartoum led to a production shutdown in January 2012, South Sudan produced half a million barrels of crude a day, accounting for 98 percent of government revenues and about 80 percent of gross domestic product, according to the Revenue Watch Institute.

Reports that Malakal was again in the hands of rebel forces came days after government troops snatched control of  Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity state, from Machar loyalists.

A women displaced by fighting in Bor county washes herself as another washes kettles in the village of Mingkamen on Jan. 14, 2014.A women displaced by fighting in Bor county washes herself as another washes kettles in the village of Mingkamen on Jan. 14, 2014.
A women displaced by fighting in Bor county washes herself as another washes kettles in the village of Mingkamen on Jan. 14, 2014.
A women displaced by fighting in Bor county washes herself as another washes kettles in the village of Mingkamen on Jan. 14, 2014.
The two sides are also fighting for control of Bor,  the capital of Jonglei state, which government forces vowed last week to recapture from rebels, who took control of the town early on in the conflict.

The United Nations says well in excess of a thousand people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced in four weeks of violence in South Sudan.

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Comment Sorting
by: Ajok balach from: USA
January 17, 2014 12:46 PM
Riek has damages his chance to become a south Sudan president what sisi !

by: YOUNG from: KENYA
January 16, 2014 2:12 PM
Riek, we are behind you. Fight for your people & democracy

by: OK from: Kenya
January 16, 2014 6:48 AM
we need Riek

by: Pidor ttet Duop from: USA
January 15, 2014 12:55 PM
My comment is we do not want dinka to be leader again.

by: Dr young from: Malakal
January 14, 2014 3:34 PM
People of south Sudan keep your force such you defeat them.we are young generation of south Sudan n i believe in kiir but i hate riek machar
In Response

by: Keak Tegn from: Ethiopia
January 16, 2014 1:06 AM
Greetings my fr, and let me tell you one thing which you will never forget,ok.
Dr. Riek the man whom you hated, is as gentle as a lamb! That's why everybody likes Him.
Dr. Machar is Democrat not as Dictator as Mr.Mayardit you live on.
The only one thing which let you to support Mayardit is to be moneys looter like Him.
Kiir's family and tribe is all about corruption:
1. His wife Mary Ayen had stolen monies from Juba in 2012.
2. His tribe Dinka(Jaang) watched after him if intoxicated he would write letter for his tribe to looted monies in a bank.
3. Currently, Mayardit Massacred Naath Nuer tribes in Juba, south sudan claimed that it was a coup.
If this is a coup, why Dr.Riek doesn't kill Dinka civilians and not burned down the captured states?
It is because they are Democracy fighters claimed to alter Dictator president-ship.
I have more to say, but these are enough.
Dean Keak

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