December 6, 2016, New military offensives in Yei River State have driven out the civil population from their homes, as air strikes and artillery gunfire pounded areas suspected as hideouts for armed youth allied to the rebel SPLA-IO.
It remains unclear how many lives may have been lost in these new military activities believed to have damaged medical facilities and flattened residential buildings.
Sources told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that many people have been killed and dozens wounded over the past 48 hours, as air raids launched by SPLA aircraft rained down on rebel-held areas amid a new government offensive.
One of the worst-hit areas includes Kargulu, Lasu, and Umbasi all near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 12 rounds of bombs struck, one of them near a local health centrd and a school.
“We have seen disturbing scenes of residents holding up body parts of relatives killed in air strikes,” a local resident who spoke to Radio Tamazuj from a hiding place said Tuesday.
“So what we’re seeing on the ground is utter desperation on the part of the people of Yei, Lasu, Kargulu and Umbasi who are not sure what to do because they can’t actually go into shelters, and if they stay at home they are at risk of being bombed,” he added.
Another source said he has seen two military helicopters hovering over Kaya last week. Last week two military helicopters were seen hovering over Kaya causing fear that conflict is returning back to the border town. Sources say the military helicopter came following a clash by South Sudan warring parties along the Kaya-Kimba Road last week.
One source explained that the clash happened when a suspected SPLA IO stopped fuel tankers near Poki hills and took several of the drivers in to the bushes. When SPLA in government tried to follow they fell in an ambush leading to wounding of an unknown number of SPLA-IG.
One victim was later taken to Koboko health unit in Uganda before being driven to South Sudan. The whereabouts of the truck drivers and their nationalities remain unknown.
Separately sources say Kiir’s forces in Kaya are embarking on destroying buildings in Kaya by removing metallic doors iron sheets and other materials then selling to people on the Ugandan side.
Natives claimed that a container of the materials looted from Kaya was on Sunday sold to a Ugandan business man in Koboko by South Sudanese soldiers at about 1.5 million Ugandan shillings.
Kaya has ever since a recent eruption of violence remained deserted with only a handful of people seen at the customs or check point. The road from Kaya to Yei through Bazi, Morobo and Mugwo has remained closed for civilians though military of both Uganda and South Sudan do pass here. For Uganda military it is their route to their Garamba base.
Meanwhile the SPLA spokesman confirmed clashes to have taken place, describing it as an act of “criminals and terrorists” whom the government forces have “beaten all” and drove them out.
Some “armed criminals” “unsuccessfully” attacked our positions around Yei over the weekend, he said.
“The criminals attacked Kargulu, Lasu, and Umbasi all near the border with the DRC. Our forces on the ground responded to the attacks by sending in the SPLA Commando and the air force,” said Brigadier General Lul Koang Ruai in a statement broadcast by South Sudan broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
Lul explained that the SPLA responded with “overwhelming and a deadly firepower. Our special forces were involved in ground attack and they were given very good air support by the SPLA Airforce.”