Fighting Breaks Out In South Sudan
Two government officials have confirmed to Radio Tamazuj yesterday that fighting has broken out in Raja town in Western Bahr al Ghazal State, South Sudan.
Speaking by phone with the sound of gunfire in the background, one of the officials said the fighting was still going on and added that he was unable to provide details because the situation was continuing.
People were fleeing and it was unclear who was involved in the fighting.
Another official, Lol State Minister of Information Francis Piol Buk said that he had fled from the town and was at Kur Adhony area between Aweil West and Raja County.
He said the government in Raja needed military reinforcements.
Separately, an SPLA soldier who spoke to Radio Tamazuj confirmed that fighting is still going on inside Raja and heavy gunfire is heard everywhere around the city.
Reportedly, the Lol state government including the county commissioners were in a meeting in Raja yesterday.
Lol State is one of 28 states created by President Salva Kiir by decree last December.
At the time of the decree, tribal leaders in the Raja County area rejected the decree saying they would not accept to be merged with the Dinka-inhabited counties of Aweil West and North.
Under the ten states system of South Sudan’s constitution, Raja County belongs to Western Bahr al Ghazal State with the state capital at Wau.
Lul Ruai, spokesman of the SPLA in Juba, loyal to President Salva Kiir, said this morning at about 10:40 that the army has no official statement to make now.
Meanwhile, a Lol State MP says Governor Rizig Zacharia was present in Raja when it came under attack today but not sure of his whereabouts now.
Garang Mawein, an MP from Lol State currently in Aweil, said “there was an attack from unknown person… and we don’t have details.” But he confirmed that the governor had been in Raja town at the time of the attack. “We want to find out where he is,” he said.
John Bonjo, a pastor in Raja whose church is now sheltering at least 100 people, said the attack this morning began at about six this morning. He said many people fled to the churches and were sheltering there. Speaking to Radio Tamazuj at about noon, he said the sounds of fighting would still come and go.
“Some of the citizens came to the church and some stayed in their houses,” said John.
Another citizen inside the same church recounted that he came to the church after struggling for about an hour to reach the church from his home, which is not closeby. He said there was shooting on the way which made it difficult for him to reach the church.
He said he witnessed the attackers within Raja itself and described them as heavily armed. “One guy can be carrying three weapons,” he said. The witness also said he saw three people in civilian clothes who had been shot, though he did not say whether they were dead or not.
A third witness in Raja, a civilian, said that the fighting had been in the area of the military base and the governor’s house in Raja. But speaking shortly after noon, he said there had not been any shooting for about half an hour.