Fierce fighting erupted on Monday morning between soldiers of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and local youth in Pochalla County of Pibor Administrative Area, local authorities said as witnesses recount hearing loud artillery shelling.
Pochalla County Executive Director Owiti Olung said the violence was triggered by the killing of a deposed SSPDF commander by his successor on Sunday, September 17.
Brigadier General Joseph Okony was reportedly shot dead on orders of one Commander Achuil, after the victim refused to be redeployed to a new area.
According to Director Olung, intense fighting erupted earlier on Monday in the town and later escalated to the SSPDF headquarters in Pochalla.
The local official claims that some of the soldier surrendered while the local militiamen threatened to overrun the military barrack.
“Joseph Okony was replaced, but he decided to go home instead of going to his deployment area, he was replaced by Achuil as the area Commander,” Olung narrated to Eye Radio.
“So, after one of their inmates called Makur escaped the detention. He (Commander Achuil) sent the soldiers, and he killed Joseph Okony yesterday in the morning.”
Olung said the local government had appealed for calm after the assasination.
“But this morning (Monday), around 5 AM, Achuil started the fighting.”
“He started killing the civilians’ houses, then the fighting erupted up to now, is him Achuil who created this fighting, some of his soldiers surrendered themselves to the youth and they are with us now.”
The SSPDF headquarters in Juba is yet to comment on the matter.
Pochalla County, a remote area near the Ethiopian border has been wracked by violence and high-profile killings in recent months.
In June 2023, Pochalla County Commissioner was killed by unidentified gunmen along with his bodyguards and a senior national security officer, according to the police.
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