MALAKAL – About 700 SPLA Juba soldiers defected and joined the armed opposition after a heavy fighting in Pinythiang yesterday. SPLA Juba faction’s split came after the killing of the second in command to General Johnson Olony last week by Dinka tribal militia within the SPLA Juba faction. Fighting continued on till today and Wau Shilluk was completely evacuated with bodies littering on the streets.
From different frontlines around Upper Nile state, Shilluk soldiers are accused of not fully committed to their duties by their regime loyal counterparts. Some Shilluk soldiers are believed to be making coordinations with their high ranking officials to consolidate their and decide their next moves.
The fighting that took place yesterday and continued today indicated that the SPLA forces are likely to lose the ground in most parts of Malakal if there is no quick reinforcement is airlifted.
Shilluk fighters are now controlling Pinythiang and Akooka whereas the government loyal forces are in control of Malakal centre only.
There are also unverified report that shiluuk youths started another fight in Renk town and Wedakona trying to dislodge out the SPLA forces from those areas.
Since the fighting is going to its third day, the government in Juba has started withdrawing its forces from various frontlines to Malakal centre in order to defend the town. Troops are being seen at Juba international airport setting off for Malakal and also from Northern part of Upper Nile where they are loaded on trucks and Toyota land cruisers to the capital Malakal.
It’s not yet clear whether the SPLA/IO forces in Wedakona northern part of upper Nile under the command of Maj.General James Koang Chuol are going to make up joint operation with defected shilluuk fighters anytime.
However, signals communication has been reported between the two groups of SPLA/IO forces and defected shilluk fighters but they haven’t team up yet to fight side by side against Juba faction.
Malakal town running empty per day since yesterday where a number of civilians have been seen fleeing the town towards North ,the border of Sudan and some were going to the already crowded United Nation Mission in South Sudan or UNMISS’s protection camps in fear that the fighting may escalate further.
THE UPPER NILE TIMES