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Heavy fighting erupts between S. Sudanese govt forces, rebels in Pagak

Heavy fighting erupts between S. Sudanese govt forces, rebels in Pagak

Heavy fighting erupted on Friday in the South Sudanese town of Pagak, near the Ethiopian border, when rebels launched an offensive against government forces, the rebels said.

Rebel spokesman Lam Gabriel told Reuters that the rebels wanted to regain the town of Pagak, which was captured by government forces on Aug. 7.

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Dickson Jock, a spokesman for the forces of South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Gai, also said they were engaged in fighting.

“At 5:00 am, SPLA-IO (Juba faction) forces came under heavy fire in Pagak … Their main aim was to drive out our forces from the strategic town of Pagak,” he told Reuters.

Rebel spokesman Gabriel said: “The government took Pagak from us six days ago.

“We decided to launch an attack on them because Pagak is our base. They took it from us and we want to take it back.”

“We cannot say right now that we are in full control but we are going towards taking control.”

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TheNewsGuru reports that on Aug. 7, South Sudan’s government forces took the rebel-held stronghold and opposition headquarters of Pagak.

In January, the government declared a unilateral ceasefire, however there have been continued reports of government-led offensives into Maiwut and toward Pagak, including killings of civilians and burnings of houses.

In July, the UN reported that 25 aid workers were evacuated from Pagak due to attacks.

Since South Sudan spiraled into civil war almost four years ago, Pagak has been the headquarters of the opposition rebels, led by former Vice President Riek Machar, who is in exile in South Africa.

The IO rebels still hold territory in Panyijiar County in Unity state as well rural areas of Jonglei state and Akobo state, traditionally areas where South Sudan’s Nuer people live.