South Sudan rebels say have recaptured stronghold from gov’t troops

JUBA, Aug. 15– South Sudanese rebels said Sunday they have
retaken Pagak headquarters which fell recently in the hands of government

Deputy spokesperson of Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition
(SPLA-IO) rebels, allied to former First Vice President Riek Machar, told
Xinhua from hideout that they are now in charge of Pagak near the Ethiopian
border. “Yes we are in control of Pagak. Since Friday at about 10
a.m.,” Lam Paul Gabriel revealed. The strategic rebel headquarters fell to
government troops on Thursday forcing thousands of civilians to flee across
the border, and SPLA-IO had vowed to recapture it. “At the moment, our
orders are to stay put and act in self defense only. We don’t know when
that will change, but if it does change, I assure you even Juba will be a
walkover,” Gabriel said.

Efforts to contact government spokesman Col. Dickson Gatluak for comment
were futile as his phone was switched off. South Sudan descended into
violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir
and his former deputy Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka
ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group. The 2015
peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when
the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee
into exile.The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and
displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.-XINHUA