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WAU - 28 Apr 2014

Four SPLA generals among defectors in Wau

The state government in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal state has acknowledged that four generals are among the soldiers who defected from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Wau over the weekend.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, state Information Minister Derek Alfred stated the defecting soldiers among them four brigadier generals attacked the airport and shot at a patrol unit on Saturday but the loyal forces repelled the attackers.

He noted shooting in the air caused panic and fear among the local residents, but the security situation returned to normal later. 

He linked what happened in the town of Wau to the report of fighting at Mapel Military Training Centre on Friday.

The Mapel incident was sparked by aggrieved families of SPLA soldiers killed in Bor and Bentiu fighting, according to the official, who claimed that angry widows killed an SPLA soldier from the Nuer tribe.

"Shortly afterward, the other Nuer soldiers who realized that their lives were at risk became too scared, a matter which prompted them to contact the government authorities in Wau to save their lives," he explained.

The minister revealed the state government set up a committee headed by the deputy governor and security director to look into the security situation and address the problem by persuading the soldiers who ran into the bush to return back to base.

"But the problem is that the group is dodging the authorities – they apparently  do not want their whereabouts known up till now", he indicated.

Two of the defected generals have been named: Brigadier General Gatwech Gach Makuach, an officer working in administrative affairs for Division 5, and Brig Gen. James Ochan Puot, a field commander.

For his part, the spokesman of the SPLM/A-in-Opposition Hussein Mar Nyuot dismissed the version of events given by government authorities describing instead targeted killings of over 200 unarmed Nuer trainees at Mapel Military Training Centre in Western Bahr El Ghazal State.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj yesterday Nyuot stated the unarmed Nuer trainees who joined the SPLA were targeted on the basis of their tribe at the training center. He outright accused the government and its security personnel of killing about 200 Nuer soldiers in cold blood.

He noted the survivors of the targeted killings at Mapel area managed to run to the nearby forests, said the rebel, who is former deputy governor of Jonglei state.

Though other sources in Wau have been unable to independently confirm the casualty figures reported by the opposition, they confirmed to Radio Tamazuj that the Nuer generals in the city defected in ‘protest’ after reports of mass killings of Nuer troops at Mapel.

They also feared for their lives, state government officials have acknowledged.

File photo