Gatwech on spotlight over gruesome Pibor attack

By William Madouk Garang

Murle Community Youth Association (MCYA) has accused the Kitgwang splinter group under rebel leader Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual of backing up the white army ethnic militia to attack civilians in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

David Ngiro Yangkon, the chairman of MCYA told journalists that the attack occurred on December 25, at Nanaam River and at Kothome, and Gumuruk cattle camp the next day – resulting in the death of the unknown number of people.

“MCYA condemns the barbaric attack on virgin arable land in the strongest term possible. The surprise attack is a clear violation of the peace deal in Pirei Payam of Uror County between Lou Nuer and Murle,” Yangkon said.

“The ongoing attacks are instigated by identified armed youth, reportedly Gawar Nuer, Lou Nuer and Dinka Bor armed youth who are backed up by the SPLA-IO militia [Kitgwang]” he added.

According to him, the over 39,000 assailants are heavily armed with RPGs, PKMs and Chemical weapons which seem to be ‘neo-Koryom’ against unarmed civilians.

“The Jonglei State Authorities organized more than 39,300 SPLA-IO militias in collaboration with 1st Lt-Gen Simon Gatwech Dual commander in chief of the SPLA-IO militia and sent them to greater Pibor to torture the inhabitants” the leader of Murle youth association noted.

According to him, an estimated 460,000 people have been displaced, and about 92,000 households have been burnt to ashes with unconfirmed numbers of women and children being kidnapped, and unknown numbers of cattle raided. 

Murle community youth further called on the government to intervene and de-escalate the tension and stop acts of a ‘genocidal’ nature against them, adding that they will not stand aloof but be in self-defense.

Two days ago, the greater Pibor authorities said at least 56 people are reported dead and 17 others were reported wounded.

For his part, Youth Coordinator, Kidolya Akol Jiji appealed to the government, humanitarian agencies and the international community to intervene and provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced people.

“Thousands of displaced people are now in Pibor seeking for safety while others are still running to Pibor for safety.

“No food, shelter, medications and many other needed items. We, therefore, call and welcome your quick response to intervene in this situation” Jiji said.

In response to the accusation labeled at Gatwech and his SPLM-IO faction, the spokesman of Gatwech, Brig. Gen. Alfred Gach Thot denied the allegation and termed it as ‘baseless’ – asserting that what happened was a communal fight which has been there for decades.

“The communal fighting between Lou Nuer, Dinka Bor and Murle tribes in Jonglei since 1990 that is before the existence of SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang Declaration” Thot said.

“They should not accuse others of their own making, the SPLM/A-IO is a national movement that comprises all ethnicities countrywide. We are not and we will never be part of any communal fights in the country because all are our citizens, our problem is the only government in Juba” he added.

On Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Lual Ruai, the spokesperson of South Sudan Defense Forces (SSPDF), said that the attack on their positions in GPAA was a sign of a rebellion.

“SSPDF forces are still in active combat at Kongor Village of Lokuangole County. SSPDF GHQs would like to categorically state that the attack on government-held towns of Gumuruk in Lokuangole is a clear act of rebellion that must be dealt with” he said.

Gen. Ruai cited that the attack occurred on December 26, adding that the white army was allied to forces in ‘green uniform’ but did not mention if there were any casualties.

“SSPDF Forces from Agrab Independent Brigade heroically fought in self-defense but withdraw tactically from Gumuruk in the early hours of December 27th 2022” Ruai noted.

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