The SPLA-IO’s rebels have retaken strategic town of Pagak on the Ethiopian boarder from Salva Kiirs government forces after hours of fighting Saturday.
In a statement, the rebel Spokesman Brig. General William Gatjiath Deng said a 6,000 strong forces from Juba government has been defeated.
“The SPLM-SPLA (IO) wishes to inform the people of South Sudan and indeed its members and supporters that the Juba regime aggression in Maiwut and Pagak have failed and that Thiajak, Mathiang, Malual Gahoth/Malou, Pamach, Thochdeng, Jotome, Kigile, Jekou and certainly Maiwut and Pagak, among others, are under our full and complete control,” Gatjiath said in a statement obtained by the South Sudan News Agency.
Brig. Gen. Gatjiath said Juba has lost all weapons and ammunition they recently brought to Pagak by a chartered plane and that the SPLA-IO also captured a lot of weapons in Maiwut fighting.
Rebels said defeated government troops hid into Ethiopia territories
Major General James Ochan Puot, who commands forces fighting against government troops said the main bridge, which connects Pagak and Ethiopia is now reopened after they defeated government forces and calls on civilians who flee their homes to return.
“Pagak is now fully under the SPLA-IO. The forces of the genocidal regime have been eliminated and defeated,” he declared in front of thousands of cheering soldiers Saturday evening in Pagak.
Yie Tang, an officer within SPLA-IO 5th Division also said their forces have cleared out government soldiers from Pagak and that the armed opposition has inflicted heavy losses on government forces.
“Government forces no longer exist here in Pagak town. Pagak is now fully controlled by the SPLA-IO and we completely destroyed them Saturday evening. We have smoked them out where they hid at Gizera and other areas,” Yie told the South Sudan News Agency at Jekow river bridge’s Pagak side.
Pagak was captured by South Sudan’s military on Monday, but rebels engaged in heavy clashes with government forces on Friday in an attempt to retake the town.
The rebels’ control of Pagak, located in the Upper Nile region, provides them with an easy route for cross-border movement and smuggling of arms and other supplies from Ethiopia.
Howeve Dickson Gatluak Jock, a spokesman for South Sudan’s Vice President Taban Deng Gai, rejected that the rebels had retaken the control of the town but said three army soldiers were killed and four others wounded during the clashes.
“We clashed with them (rebels) yesterday in Pagak, but we are in full control of the area,” he said.