Tonj’s fighting not linked to disarmament-SSPDF
By Gilo Jr. Okwata
South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) insisted that the recent fighting in Tonj, Warrap State, has no connection to the ongoing disarmament in the area.
Speaking to Juba Monitor on a telephone interview yesterday, the spokesperson for SSPDF, Major General Lul Ruai Koang, clarified that the incident had nothing to do with disarmament process but it was an isolated case of misunderstanding between armed civilians and two soldiers.
“What happened had no link to collection of arms from civilians. It was an isolated case. It was a misunderstanding that was not related to collection of guns. The disarmament was going on very well without any incident and still continuing,” Maj. General Lul said.
However, Maj. General Lul stated that the situation had now been brought under full control when the army withdrew back 25miles away from the epicenter where fighting occurred and that the two soldiers who were involved in that fighting had been detained.
“Immediately the crisis was brought under control. Our forces were pulled back to Ngok-Agok 25 miles from Romic Market the original place of crisis. And also the two culprits who started the quarrel were arrested because they were off-duty that day,” he stated.
He also mentioned that the intervention of members of the legislative Assembly both national and State levels helped in the stabilization of the security situation in Tonj.
“Intellectual members of legislative Assembly at both national and state levels and chiefs had all moved in to help in the stabilization of the situation,” Maj. General Lul added.
Maj. General Lul said that the incident has a short term effect on the disarmament process and admitted that the whole crisis could have been avoided if civilians did not take offensive position against the Army.
“Well the impact is temporary; we could not go on for the last four days because of this incident. It was a temporary setback but we have already overcome it. The incident could have been avoided if the youths had shown restraint and intelligence,” he said.
In addition, Maj. General Lul confirmed that a total of 127 people have so far lost their lives and with others still nursing their injuries.
“As of yesterday in the afternoon, the total number of those killed on both side stood at 127. Eighty two civilians and forty five security forces, then at the side of security forces 32 were wounded and 26 of whom were brought here in Juba for treatment in the Military hospital,” he added.
The fighting allegedly erupted over headscarf worn by one of the youth after he refused to give to the soldier when he was ordered to do so.