South Sudan army again loses control of Bor
Witnesses in the town of Bor, capital of Jonglei State, reported clashes today as the town slipped out of the government’s control for the second time since the start of hostilities in South Sudan on 15 December.
Defectors from SPLA 8th Division led by Peter Gadet took control of Bor on 17-18 December, but they were driven from the city less than a week later. Now the force, reinforced by irregular troops from northern Jonglei, has again advanced on Bor against resistance by loyal forces and allied warplanes.
Col. Philip Aguer, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), confirmed that fighting inside the town in the morning drove out the civilian population.
Another military source loyal to the Kiir government told Radio Tamazuj from near Bor that the town had fallen while the airport remained in government hands.
Witnesses today also reported that warplanes dropped bombs on parts of the city, but they did not confirm whether there was any injury or loss of life.
Many of the fighters who took over the city today were dressed in civilian clothes, said the military source in Bor.
He added that the SPLA forces withdrew from Bor after the clashes. Likewise, Moses Ruai, spokesman of ‘interim government’ loyal to Machar in the neighboring state, confirmed Machar's troops attacked the city and claimed they controlled it.
On the other hand, Nhial Majak Nhial, mayor of the town, claimed in an interview with Reuters news agency that the town is “partly in our hands.”
Government spokesman downplays loss
The government’s information minister speaking through UN radio reports that the town of Bor is in ‘full control’ of the government.
Michael Makuei, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, is quoted by UN-run Radio Miraya as saying that “the SPLA has full control of the town.”
He also dismisses the possibility of Gadet advancing on Juba: "Even if they capture Bor, how will they move to Juba is another thing."
"There is no way that they will be moving to Juba because we will finish them there and then,” Makuei added.
Bor lies 190 km north of the capital Juba.
Photo: A vehicle destroyed in fighting in Bor last week (AFP)