South Sudan rebels deny getting weapons from Khartoum

Sudan_-_Location_Map_(2011)_-_SDN_-_UNOCHA.svgSouth Sudan’s rebels on Friday denied a report alleging they were getting weapons delivered by air from Khartoum, claiming it was government troops who were using arms bought from Sudan.

According to a report released earlier this week by the London-based small arms research organisation, Conflict Armament Research, its researchers documented a cache of weapons and ammunition captured from the rebels in Jonglei State in November.

The report said rifle ammunition had been damaged in a way that suggested it had been dropped from an aircraft, with photographs showing what the research body said were Sudanese manufacturers’ marks.

“We want to make it clear that even if the descriptions indicating sources of the weapons were to be true, this does not necessarily mean the weapons were delivered directly to our forces,” rebel spokesman James Gatdet Dak said in a statement.

“Our forces have been also capturing weapons and ammunition including tanks from President Salva Kiir’s government. For those who may not know it, South Sudan government buys weapons from Sudan,” he added, saying the Juba government had also purchased arms from China.

“Seeing a Sudanese or Chinese manufactured weapon shouldn’t be a surprise. It shouldn’t also be alleged as evidence of (the rebels) receiving weapons from Khartoum,” he said.

South Sudan split from the north in 2011 under a peace deal that ended a bloody 22-year civil war, but relations between the countries have been tense since then.

Khartoum has repeatedly denied that it is involved in the civil war in South Sudan, which has pitted President Kiir against his arch rival and former deputy Riek Machar since December 2013.

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