South Sudan says govt troops kill 40 rebels in latest clash

  • As Sudan president will not attend Saudi summit with Trump

South Sudan on Friday confirmed that 40 rebels were killed in the latest clash on Thursday in Bieh state’s Waat area.

Brig. Dickson Gatluak, Spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) faction under first Vice President Taban Gai, said that together with government troops they killed 40 rebels.

Gatluak said the rebels had attacked their positions at Waat.

“The 40 rebels killed were from the rebel side, and two people from our side were injured in the fighting. The aggression was from the side of the rebels,” Gatluak said.

This came after another clash on Tuesday in the border town of Yei between the warring factions killed four soldiers.

However, Lam Gabriel, Deputy Military Spokesman of the SPLA-in opposition rebels allied to former first Vice President Riek Machar, denied the number of death alleged by the government.

“We didn’t incur any single loss but we have five with minor injuries,” he said.

He added that it was the government troops (SPLA) that provoked the fighting.

“The government forces got out of their trenches in Waat, but were repulsed by our forces and they are still in their trenches up to now,’’ Lam said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Machar led to fighting that pitied mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

A peace agreement was signed in 2015 but was shattered in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The UN says the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions of others.

In the meantime, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted on war crime and genocide charges, will not attend an Islamic Summit in Saudi Arabia this weekend in which President Donald Trump is a guest of honor, citing private reasons, Sudanese state media reported Friday.

Al-Bashir has instead assigned his Minister of State Taha al-Hussein to represent him at the summit held in Riyadh, the SUNA news agency said. The summit will bring together more than 50 leaders from Muslim and Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia is holding the event under the slogan “Together We Prevail” in hopes of fighting extremist ideologies and cooperating with American and Islamic allies to strengthen economic relations.

Sudan’s long-serving leader, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court’s wanted list for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. ICC prosecutors issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest, in March 2009 and July 2010.

The Darfur region has been the site of violent conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in the capital, Khartoum accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died in the conflict and some 2.7 million have fled their homes.

Just two days ago, the U.S. embassy issued a statement voicing its opposition to al-Bashir’s plans to attend the summit.

Sudan has been under U.S. financial sanctions since the 1990s after it was designated a “state sponsor of terrorism.”

A week before leaving office, President Barack Obama eased some sanctions on Sudan citing positive actions by the government, including the reduction in offensive military activity and cooperating with the U.S. to address regional conflict and the threat of terrorism.

But later, the Trump administration singled out Sudan as one of six Muslim majority countries whose citizens were banned from immigrating to the U.S.

Sudan has close military, business and political ties with Saudi Arabia. It is also part of a Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels.

Additional report from Abc