By Parach Mach
JUBA, South Sudan
Fresh fighting in South Sudan’s northeast has left at least 153 dead including eight civilians and displaced more than 30,000 people, mostly women and children, to seek shelter in a neighboring village, a lawmaker representing the area in South Sudan’s transitional parliament said.
Army spokesman Brig. Lual Ruai Koang could only confirm that 105 militants loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar were killed and more than 80 of them were also captured.
“They have been attacking our position since they heard the alleged evacuation of their leader by the UN last week,” said Ruai.
The UN last Wednesday said it had responded on humanitarian grounds to help Machar flee the country. He had fled Juba last month after his base was attacked by troops loyal to President Salva Kiir. His spokesman said he could not disclose his location due to security concerns.
As many as 30,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes around the town of Pajut of Duk County, in Jonglei State, Philip Thon Leek, local parliamentarian representing the Duk constituency in the national assembly told Anadolu Agency by phone from capital, Juba.
He said the people displaced have sought refuge at Duk Padiet, another neighboring town which has been housing 37,000 internal displaced persons from conflict-hit countries of Uror and Akobo.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation has witnessed unrest last July when forces loyal to Machar clashed with those backing president Salva Kiir raising the prospect of a return to full-scale civil war.
The violence, which killed 300 people including two Chinese UN peacekeepers came less than three months after the warring parties formed the Transitional Government of National Unity to end the conflict that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and uprooted 2.4 million people from their homes since 2013.