20 'killed' as South Sudan army pursues rebels By MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Thursday, March 21  2013 at  18:58

At least 20 soldiers have been killed and 30 others wounded in the latest confrontation between South Sudan army and rebels, officials said on Thursday.

The latest fighting, in a series of clashes in recent days, took place in a village near Gurmuk in the restive Jonglei’s Pibor County, the base of David Yau Yau’s rebellion, a military officer said.

“We have 30 wounded in hospital and we have 20 people dead in past engagement,” said Gen Johnson Gony Bileu, who is commanding the forces pursuing the rebels.

“Every day we fight. These people (rebels) split in areas and those are residents who ambush people.

Even today, there is an ambush between Pibor and Gumuruk,” Gen Gony told a local radio station.

Gen Gony said the army was moving into rebel bases to crack an insurgency that has been destabilising Jonglei State for more than two years.

“We are going ahead. Now we are near Okello and hopefully today or tomorrow, we will be in Okello where rebels stay,” he said.

The commissioner of Pibor, Mr Joshua Kony, confirmed that the army has been fighting almost daily in recent days.

“These Yau Yau people are scattered. They move in groups of threes or fours and attack and run away,” the commissioner said.

“The youth who want to keep their guns are ambushing the army. There was fighting in Gurmuk. The report is given to me that no civilians were killed,” Mr Joshua kony said.

Yau Yau, who South Sudan officials said was getting arms from Khartoum, has been colluding with disgruntled armed youths to raid other parts of the state.

The army, which gets limited in mobility in the wet season, intends to defeat the rebel group or sign a peace deal with it at least before the rainy season.

The army said it had made significant progress in chasing away the rebels from their bases in Gumuruk, Likuangole, Manyabol, Lotila and Rabrab localities in Pibor.

No casualty figures were immediately available for the rebels.