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Several dead, scores injured in Nasir County as SSPDF and civilians clash

Armed Nuer youth of the White Army. (File photo)
Armed Nuer youth of the White Army. (File photo)

Fighting erupted at the weekend in Nasir Town in Upper Nile State’s Nasir County between civilians and the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), claiming some lives, injuring many, and displacing the town’s folk.

According to a local official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the tensions occasioned by the ongoing sporadic fighting, the clashes started on Saturday night when the SSPDF attacked local youths who had gone fishing.

“On Saturday 10 February at around 10 p.m., about 5 youths from Kurmuot Two Payam of Ulang County went fishing in an area a few miles from Wechyar-Adiw Military Barracks. However, some SSPDF elements left the barracks and opened fire on the youth killing one of them, Muoch Tor, instantly. Two other youths, Bol Gatwech Lual and Taban Lieh, were critically wounded. One SSPDF soldier was also wounded,” he narrated. “On Sunday, at around 6 a.m. some SSPDF soldiers attacked civilians at Dar-Wech Kuany-Lual-Thoan and unfortunately, a civilian called Gatkhor Riek Bol from Dhuoreding Payam was intentionally short four times and this resulted in full confrontation between the army and the youth which lasted two hours.”

He said some people died in the fighting while many were injured and that tension remained high on Sunday night.

“Civilians are being displaced, houses have been burned and properties looted,” he added. “There are unconfirmed numbers of the elderly and children who drowned in the river while trying to flee the chaos.”

He faulted the SSPDF for what he called a barbaric attack but said county authorities were in touch with the SSPDF Special Force Commander at Wechyar-Adiw Military Barracks, Maj. Gen. David Majur Dak, to restore calm.

Meanwhile, Acting Upper Nile State Governor Jeremiah Deng confirmed to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday evening that clashes were ongoing in Nasir, without providing details.

“Up to now, we do not have clear information on what happened and we are still searching for the correct information,” he said. “However, the situation is now calm and not like it was in the morning (Sunday).”

For his part, Civil Society Activist Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), in a statement, condemned the fighting in Nasir and said several civilians have been displaced and some houses, including the Presbyterian Church, were burned down by SSPDF.

“The fighting began on Saturday at around 10 p.m. when the SSPDF went out of their barracks and attacked civilians who were fishing in an area called Torjuoch, killing one civilian and wounding two others. Today (Sunday) in the morning, the SSPDF also went to an area called Dàwech Kuanylual Thoan and attacked civilians and tried to take their cattle by force for no reason and this is the cause of the ongoing fighting,” he said. “This is an unacceptable act from the SSPDF and the leadership of the SSPDF should take serious measures against this misconduct and undisciplined behavior of some of the SSPDF soldiers and their leaders.”

“The political leadership of the country should now realize the negative implications of low pay and delayed payment of soldiers,” Yakani added.

The activist stated that the misconduct of SSPDF soldiers in Kajo Keji, Gondokoro, other parts of the country, and now Nasir, requires a proper response from both the army and the country’s leadership.  

Several calls to Nasir County Commissioner Duol Kun Thien and SSPDF Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang went unanswered.

This is a developing story and we will keep you updated.