Suspected National Salvation Front (NAS) rebels killed six security forces personnel on Wednesday, August 19, in an attack on a vice-presidential convoy in the Lobonok area of Central Equatoria state. Vice-President James Wani Igga, one of President Salva Kiir's five deputies in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), was reportedly not traveling with the convoy when it was attacked outside his home village on Wednesday evening. However, six members of his security team were killed and a further two injured in the incident.
Security operations are likely in the Lobonok area in the near term following the incident.
Although its influence is limited beyond the Central Equatoria region, the NAS has continued to fight both the government and Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) forces in the area despite the 2018 revitalized peace agreement and the formation of the TGoNU in February. Ethnic tensions in Central Equatoria have been flamed by the division of the Nuer and Equatorian communities between the SPLM-IO and rival rebel groups such as the NAS since the September 2018 peace agreement, as well as the government's use of the Mathiang Anyoor Dinka militia in the region in 2017.
NAS rebels were previously accused of attacking James Wani Igga's security team in April 2018, killing two bodyguards in an ambush on the Juba-Lobonok road.
Due to the high conflict risk and threat of violent crime, all travel to South Sudan should be subject to a thorough localized threat assessment and undertaken in coordination with a trusted security provider. Travelers are advised to subject all travel, particularly to remote and rural areas, to strict journey management protocols. Avoid travel at night, vary routines, and maintain a heightened sense of situational awareness. Monitor local media sources to remain apprised of security-related developments and adhere to any directives issued by local authorities.
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