Kampala/Juba – Contents of the statement issued by the South Sudanese army spokesperson on the skirmishes that happened at the Uganda-South Sudan border were full of falsehoods, the Uganda Peoples Defence forces (UPDF) has said.
In a statement on Saturday (October 31, 2020), the UPDF deputy spokesperson, Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki, said they had noted with concern that the statement attributed to the director of media and press and spokesperson of the South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces (SSPDF), Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, dated October 29, was false.
“The statement is completely false and a deliberate misrepresentation of what actually happened. What happened is regrettable and can be avoided through mutual condemnation and decisive action against the remnant errant elements who on their own frolic, made this incursion into Ugandan territory ostensibly for the unofficial and individual criminal ends of extorting and robbing the Ugandan public,” Akiiki explained.
Regarding the incident, Akiiki reiterated that on October 27, 2020, at around 13:00hrs, SSPDF troops of about a platoon (36) size established an illegal roadblock and an ambush at Ted-Nagwe (Atwila) in Pangira sub-county, Lamwo district several kilometers inside Ugandan territory for unknown reasons.
He said that on receiving this information from the local residents, the UPDF deployment in the area of Ngomoromo moved to Ted Nagwe on a fact-finding mission.
“While approaching the spot where the illegal roadblock was, one SSPDF soldier was spotted and the UPDF commander approached him for an explanation. While interacting with him, the rest came from the ambush and instantly opened fire towards the UPDF troops,” Akiiki stated.
He noted that the SSPDF soldiers were, however, subdued by UPDF retaliatory fire in which two SSPDF soldiers died and one was captured with three sub-machine guns (SMGs). There was no single casualty registered on UPDF side.
The two bodies, the captured soldier and the three guns were handed over to the South Sudanese authorities on 29th Oct 2020.
“It is within the means of the leadership of both the UPDF and SSPDF to address and put this matter to rest. The continued incursions onto Ugandan territory by South Sudanese armed elements, present a challenge not only to the border communities but to the brotherly relations between the two countries,” Akiiki said.
He revealed that the ministries of foreign affairs and Defence of the two sister countries were working closely to address the matter.
“Diplomatic engagements by relevant stakeholders are ongoing to complete the re-demarcation and reaffirmation of the common border to forestall future conflicts,” he added.
In his statement, the South Sudanese army spokesperson (Maj. Gen. Koang) accused the UPDF mechanised unit of making an incursion in the South Sudanese territory.
Koang claimed that the UPDF, armed with heavy artillery pieces and light military trucks mounted with 12.7mm machine guns, launched a cross border attack on their defensive border outpost at Pogee in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State.
“A South Sudanese Defence Forces squad sized force heroically fought to protect [the] territorial integrity of our beloved country. However, that small force was outnumbered, outgunned and temporarily, was forced to retreat,” Koang stated.
He said that a counterattack codenamed ‘Operation Restore Territorial Integrity of the Republic of South Sudan’ was launched to flush out mechanised units of UPDF, adding that they have since regained full control of Pogee, reinforced and strengthened their defensive postures along the Uganda-South Sudanese border.
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Koang also confirmed that the clash resulted into loss of two South Sudanese soldiers, and one was captured. He also confirmed that there were arrangements to handover the bodies of their fallen soldiers and their assault rifles.
Whereas Akiiki revealed that the Ugandan army did not lose any soldier, Koang alleged that two UPDF soldiers died in the clash as well. These, Akiiki stated, were falsehoods.