Published on July 18, 2016
(JUBA) – The Ugandan government has claimed that forces loyal to the South Sudanese First Vice President, Riek Machar killed six of its 11 nationals during the recent clashes with government soldiers in the country’s capital, Juba.
Uganda’s foreign affairs minister, Henry Okello Oryem told the independent Daily Monitor newspaper last week that tanks allegedly belonging to Machar’s forces ran over the six Ugandan citizens at Jebel Kujur, a Juba suburb.
Oryem reportedly made the allegations as he briefed the country’s lawmakers in the national parliament on the situation in South Sudan and the safety of their citizens in the northern neighbouring nation.
But the First Vice President’s office said the allegations were untrue, since they did not have tanks unlike President Salva Kiir’s forces.
“This is untrue. We don’t possess tanks in Juba. When our 1,300 troops were airlifted into Juba, they didn’t bring with them tanks. It is President Salva Kiir’s forces who possess tanks and actually attacked our forces at Jebel Kujur using tanks,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
“If the Ugandan nationals were crashed by tanks, then the Honourable minister of Uganda should ask President Kiir,” he added.
Dak, however, said he hoped the Ugandan official was not trying to justify another pretext to deploy Ugandan troops to South Sudan to fight against the opposition fighters as they did from December 2013.
The minister was also quoted saying they had reliable information that Machar’s forces have an upper hand in the southern part of Juba and may “soon” take control of towns like Yei.
Clashes between the country’s rival forces lefts hundreds dead, before Kiir and Machar declared a ceasefire, which has since held.
At least 42,000 people, the United Nations said last week, have been displaced from their homes as a result of a conflict that threatens to derail the country’s peace agreement.