JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudanese army has confirmed the killing of four South Sudanese officers by the Ugandan army following an exchange of gunfire along the Kajo Keji border, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang has said.

Three of the dead were members of the South Sudan Defense Forces while one belonged to the police, Koang told Anadolu Agency over the phone late Monday, adding that the incident occurred on Saturday.

They were part of a group of security forces deployed to patrol the border and deter illegal crossings to control the spread of COVID-19, Koang said.

“The UPDF [Uganda People’s Defense Force] spotted them and opened fire on them killing four on spot — three from SSPDF [South Sudan People’s Defense Forces] and one from South Sudan national police services,” Koang said.

“The fifth one was wounded and is now getting treatment in Kajo Keji,” he noted.

According to Koang, the forces were patrolling along the border with Uganda at a place called Guya, a contested village between South Sudan and Uganda.

“They stopped at Guya to drink some water because that place had a water pump, Ugandans are claiming it. They had encroached on it,” he said.

Koang said the SSPDF leadership got in touch with their counterparts in Uganda and the remains of the four were repatriated to Kajo Keji.

“Now our chief of defense forces has requested his counterpart to carry out an investigation,” he said.

A local council chairperson in Kochi sub-county in Uganda, quoted by Ugandan local media, accused the South Sudanese army of encroaching into Maru village to loot and harass civilians.

Yusuf Taban said the soldiers took a power saw and 10 liters of oil from one of the residents.

The soldiers were also accused of asking villagers to vacate the area saying it belongs to South Sudan.

“Following the public outcry, the UPDF soldiers at Goboro detach went for patrol at Fitinambaya trading centre in Maru village on May 30, which resulted in the clash,” Taban told the Ugandan Daily Monitor.

According to the UPDF, their soldiers returned fire, killing three South Sudanese soldiers on the spot at Fitinambaya trading centre in Maru village on Saturday.

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