South Sudan Conflict: December 18-19, 2013

For the series of conflict maps from December 2013, please visit our conflict mapping page.

Following two days of violence, calm began returning to Juba. Several sources place the death toll from December 15-17 at 500, and over 900 SPLA soldiers were reported to be recovering in the Juba Military Hospital. Meanwhile, following the defections in Pibor and ethnic violence in Bor, the rebellion began in earnest in Bor and Akobo and at military bases outside of Juba. Possibly after hearing of family members victimized by violence in Juba, SPLA soldiers in Kuajok (Warrap) and Bunj/Boing (Upper Nile) attacked civilians and colleagues.

Division 8 commander Peter Gadet, who led the SSLA rebellion in Unity State for several months in 2011 before returning to the government fold, defected early in the morning on December 18 and led mutinying forces in Bor as they attempted to take control of the town. According to news reports, Gadet and defecting SPLA soldiers took control of heavy artillery and tanks in Pan-pandiar and used these to drive SPLA forces loyal to the government out of the city, which SPLA acknowledged had fallen to the rebels by the evening of the 18th. An estimated 5,000 civilians began to flee from Bor, and several young children reportedly drowned while crossing the Nile to the Gol-Yar area of Awerial County, Lakes State. Also on the morning of the 18th, three soldiers were reported to have died in clashes between SPLA and defectors in the military barracks in Akobo. Violent defections were reported in Liria, Central Equatoria, and at the Mogiri base, near Juba on the Juba-Torit Road.

Meanwhile foreign governments began pulling their citizens out of South Sudan; the furious pace of evacuation down the Juba-Nimule road to the border of Uganda led to several accidents over subsequent days. Furthermore, the crash of a commercial jet on the Juba runway stranded evacuees. The day following clashes in the military barracks of Akobo, two UN peacekeepers and 30 civilians sheltering at the UN compound in Akobo were killed, prompting the UN to urgently secure its positions elsewhere in South Sudan and begin the process of bringing more peacekeepers into the country to protect civilians.

On December 19, clashes allegedly broke out between Nuer and Dinka workers at the GPOC base at Unity oilfield and the Thar-jath oilfield base, where Nuer employees are reported to have coordinated attacks. SPLA forces came to quell the outburst of violence, but gunfire was reported to have continued in villages around Bentiu. In Lakes State, a Nuer officer and his bodyguards were reportedly killed by a pro-government soldier.

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