Wau, 20 July 2020: SSPDF and its peace partner SPLA-IO clashed in Western Bahr el Ghazal state. This clash was the first in its nature since Machar return to Juba in February 2020.
According to Deputy military spokesperson Brig Lam Paul Gabriel, who doubled as press secretary in the office of Defense Minister, the two sides clashed on Saturday near Nyabor, close to a venue that hosts the newly appointed governor of WBGS on Saturday.
"On Saturday 18/07/2020, at about 11:30 AM, a convoy of SSPDF disarmament force under the command of Lt. Gen. Riin Tueny met with Brig. Gabriel Bol Wek and some few soldiers of the SPLA-IO in Nyabor as they were going to Wadho Alel to prepare to receive the Governor of Western Bar El Gazal State" said Lam on his Facebook page.
"Noticing that the SPLA-IO soldiers were armed, the SSPDF decided to disarm and arrest them including Brig. Bol Wek; even after they introduced themselves as SPLA-IO soldiers."
Brig. Lam said in the retaliatory attempt, Then SPLA-IO forces on the ground in return blocked the road between Wau and Tonj and arrested some SPLA-IG soldiers and civilians who were together with the soldiers at that time.
The arrest of SSPDF triggered an exchange of firearms, " this brought in tension that led to the exchange of fire between the SSPDF and the SPLA-IO on the ground, in complete violation of the permanent ceasefire in particular and the R-ARCSS in general." however, Brig Lam the deputy military spokesperson of SPLA-IO couldn't provide more details whether there were causalities from both sides as a result of the exchange of firearms.
"The SPLA-IO respects the decision of the SSPDF to disarm civilians in their areas of control but not the SPLA-IO forces or civilians in areas controlled by the SPLA-IO."
The accident still explains how badly such small misunderstanding could trigger big fire; a similar incident happened in Juba leading to July 8 J1 fighting in war Dr. Riek Machar escaped narrowly.
"The SPLA-IO leadership asks the civilians to remain calm as this incident is a result of a misunderstanding by soldiers on the ground and is being handled by the leadership of both sides in Juba." wrote Brig Lam.
He further said SPLA-IO leadership in Juba has directed SPLA-IO ground forces to release the SSPDF with civilians, "The SPLA-IO directs its forces on the ground to release those SSPDF soldiers and civilians arrested including their belongings."
He also argued SSPDF forces to immediately release SPLA-IO force arrested including their commander, "At the same time, the SPLA-IO calls upon the SSPDF command to release Brig. Bol Wek with all his soldiers and all their guns so that they go back to their base."
He said SPLA-IO calls upon RJMEC, JDB, and CTSAMVM to investigate this violation and bring those responsible to book.