Colonel Philip Aguer, military spokesperson of the SPLA told reporters on Friday that clashes involving government forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and armed fighters allied to Machar have been taking place for the past three days in southern parts of Unity state.
The military officer blamed these skirmishes on the activities of the opposition forces in the state. The places of these clashes, he said, were in areas under Koch and Leer counties in the state.
He claimed that government troops fought back in self-defence during these attacks and urged monitors of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to step up monitoring capabilities and to put pressure on the command and the leadership of the armed opposition to show commitment and adhere to the provision of the security arrangements.
Meanwhile, Unity state minister of youth, culture and sports, Lam Tungwar, said separately that Joseph Nguen Monytuil, governor of the state has warned that full scale hostilities could break out between the government and armed opposition forces in the area if the peace agreement is not respected.
“The governor of Unity state is sending a strong warning to the [SPLM] IO forces in the state to obey the peace agreement otherwise this could [develop to a] full scale [war] if not respected. We have informed all our leadership commands to stay alert since this attacks are now regular,” Tungwar quoted Monytuil as saying.
The state official said authorities in the state did not know the motive behind the hostilities. Governor Monytuil is left with less than three months to vacate the seat of the governorship as a new governor for the oil-rich state will be nominated by Machar’s armed opposition.
However reached by Sudan Tribune, the military spokesman of the armed opposition faction denied accusations by the government, and said that it was the government which launched attacks on their positions in the state.
Colonel William Gatjiath Deng confirmed the clashes in Koch and Leer counties on Friday morning, but said they were repulsing attacks on their positions by government forces.
The counter-accusations came as rival senior commanders from both sides have been trying to work out how to implement the security arrangements in the discussions which centre on demilitarization of the national capital, Juba, state capitals as well as other major towns in the country.
The two parties signed a peace agreement in August to end the 21-month long civil war which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions others internally and to the neighbouring countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.