56 killed in fighting around S Sudan town of Malakal
Heavy fighting around the town of Malakal in South Sudan left dozens of people dead at the weekend, a military spokesman said on Sunday, after rebels said they would try to seize control of the town. The rebels had attacked government positions on Friday night but the military held their ground, army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said. “Our forces were able to successfully drive them back with heavy casualties. More than 56 rebels were killed,” he told a group of journalists whom the government had flown to Malakal on Sunday to see the situation. “We came here ... to let the people of South Sudan, and in particular the region, know that Malakal was not captured by the rebels as reported at the weekend.” It was not possible to independently verify the reported casualty figures, but a Reuters photographer who flew to Lalo, a camp near Malakal, with the military saw 15 bodies nearby, a burnt building within the base, and bodies scattered in other positions. Soldiers said they were expecting another attack. On Friday, the rebels said they captured Lalo and the nearby location of Wajwok, and planned to seize Malakal.