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S. Sudan army threatens to use “deadly force” against rebels

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South Sudan’s army has threatened to use what it said would be a deadly force against holdout opposition groups which it said have regularly violated ceasefire agreements.

The latest army statement comes a few days after elements belonging to the National Salvation Front (NAS) led by General Thomas Cirilo ambushed a convoy belonging to vice-president James Wani Igga killing six of his guards. 

The holdout opposition group claimed in a statement the next day that they were provoked by the vice-president’s guards and said they did the ambush to protect civilians and their own lives.

However, in a statement this morning, army’s spokesman General Lul Ruai Koang denied that the rebel forces were provoked in anyway and said such actions violates the ceasefire agreement and the recommitment which the parties did in January this year in Italy.

“SSPDF GHQS would like to inform own Gallant Forces, people of South Sudan, IGAD and the Community of Sant Egildio of NAS’s continuous attacks on SSPDF’s positions in different parts of Central Equatoria State,” the statement said.

The statement said the rebel group “gave unjustifiable, illogical and inconsistent reasons for launching such unprovoked attacks. The brutal attack on Vice President’s bodyguards necessitates the need for correction on accounts provided by NAS.”

The army statement reiterated its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict but said it “reserves right to respond with a deadly force in self-defense and that of civilians and their properties.” “SSPDF calls upon CTSAMM-VM to investigate violations and urges the Community of Sant’ Egildio to bear pressure on Thomas Cirilo to cease combat operations.

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