The Ugandan government has admitted that its military forces have been assisting South Sudanese forces in combat. President Yoweri Musevani said his nation’s forces have been fighting alongside the South Sudanese military to defeat rebel groups within the young nation.
President Musevani said that Ugandan and South Sudanese forces were victorious in a large battle against the rebels north of the capital. The President said that Ugandan soldiers had died fighting the rebels.
Ugandan military spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said today that the Ugandans have helped clear rebel forces out of the town of Bor near the strategically important capital region. This area near Juma has been the setting for some of the fiercest fighting since December.
Ankunda confirms that 1600 Ugandan soldiers are involved in fighting rebels in South Sudan.
The involvement of foreign military forces in the bitter conflict could lead to an escalation of the war. The violence has already claimed several thousand people.
The revelation of Ugandan involvement in the war comes as fighting continues near Bor and Malakal. BBC reports that South Sudanese forces are still involved in combat around Bor, while rebel groups are trying to capture the city of Malakal.
An Outbreak of Rebellion
The war in South Sudan began in December when South Sudanese President Salva Kiir claimed his former deputy Riek Machar was planning a coup. Machar denies the allegations but now leads the rebel opposition to the government.
The conflict has seen killing along ethnic lines between members of the President’s Dinka ethnic group and Mr. Machar’s smaller Nuer ethnic group. Other ethnic groups in the country have also been involved in the conflict.
On Jan. 14, Uganda’s parliament approved President Musevani’s decision to send troops to South Sudan.