(Adds U.N. comment)
NAIROBI, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Heavy fighting erupted on Friday
in the South Sudanese town of Pagak near the border with
Ethiopia when rebels launched an offensive against government
forces, the rebels said.
Rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel told Reuters that the
rebels were seeking to regain Pagak, which was captured by
government forces on Aug. 7.
"We decided to launch an attack on them because Pagak is our
base. They took it from us and we want to take it back," Gabriel
"We cannot say right now that we are in full control but we
are going towards taking control."
Dickson Gatluak Jock, a spokesman for the forces of South
Sudan's First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, confirmed that they
were engaged in fighting.
"At 5:00 am, SPLA-IO forces (loyal to the Juba government)
came under heavy fire (from the rebels) in Pagak ... Their main
aim was to drive out our forces from the strategic town of
Pagak," he told Reuters.
South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013, only two years
after it won independence, when President Salva Kiir fired his
deputy, Riek Machar, unleashing a conflict that has since
splintered along multiple ethnic lines.
Machar has been under house arrest in South Africa since
December as regional leaders try to bring about an end to the
conflict. The rebels fighting government forces in South Sudan
remain loyal to Machar.
UNMISS, the U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan, told
Reuters in an email the situation in Pagak was "extremely
worrying" and urged all combatants to show restraint.
(Editing by Gareth Jones)
First Published: 2017-08-11 12:33:00
Updated 2017-08-11 16:23:31
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