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Tensions as South Sudan, Uganda troop clashes leave two dead at border

October 30, 2020

By Deng Machol

Juba – Tensions are high between Juba and Kampala, following following a border clash between troops from Uganda and South Sudan that left two dead in South Sudan's Eastern Equatoria state.

The locals said Ugandan army attacked a SSPDF outpost at Pogee village in Eastern Equatoria state killing two SSPDF soldiers before walking away with their bodies.

The South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) has confirmed, by says that it has repulsed an attack by Ugandan military forces on a border village in the country’s Eastern Equatoria state on Tuesday.

In a statement statement, the Juba army spokesperson, General Lul Ruai Koang said his force was repulsed following a brief takeover of the SSPDF outpost by the UPDF, saying the attackers were heavily armed.

“On October 27th, 2020, at about 1PM, a mechanized Unit of Ugandan People’s Defense Forces made a major incursion into our territory. UPDF armed with heavy artillery pieces and light military trucks mounted with 12.7mm machine guns launched cross border attack on own Defensive Border outpost at Pogee in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State,” said Lul in the statement.

Army spokesperson added that “SSPDF Squad sized force heroically fought to protect territorial integrity of our beloved Country. However, that small force was outnumbered, outgunned and was temporarily forced to retreat. A hasty counterattack code named “Operation Restore Territorial Integrity of the Republic of South Sudan” was launched to flush out mechanized Units of UPDF."

The statement further said “As things stand, SSPDF had regained full control of Pogee, reinforced and strengthened own defensive postures along the borders with Uganda. The brief clash resulted in own two dedicated Servicemen getting killed in action while a third was captured.

“Reliable intelligence reports indicated UPDF had lost two servicemen as well. UPDF is currently in custody of remains of fallen comrades along with their personal assault rifles," said statement in part.

Meanwhile, The UPDF spokesperson, Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, told Radio Tamazuj that the problem started when South Sudanese army entered Uganda on a motorbike and started harassing people. 

“The people called the army and when the army tried to talk to them these guys just opened fire causing an exchange because the Ugandan side also opened fire,” said Byekwaso. “As a result, we killed two from the other side and we also captured one.”

She said UPDF did not lose any soldiers and that talks were on-going to resolve the issue.

Lul unveiled that Juba's top military officials had established contacts with UPDF leadership on unprovoked incursion and the later had in turn promised to handover remains of fallen soldiers along with their guns as well as the serviceman taken as PoW. 

Handing over ceremony is expected to take place in the next few days.

“SSPDF reiterates its commitment to maintenance of cordial relations with UPDF but was saddened by chameleonic behaviors of that army from supposedly sisterly country," said Lul.

Area representative urged civilians in the area to remain clamed and further called on the national government to intervene and resolve the dispute.

As the locals are living in fear following recent clashes, are now appealing to authorities of the two countries to resolve the issue.

South Sudan gained her independence in 2011 and then battered by a years of conflict is facing a border encroachment from its neighbouring countries.

Support Peace Initiative Organization SIPDO, a South Sudanese organization appealed to the technical committee on the land border from South Sudan and Uganda to re-commit to resolving disputed border boundaries.

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