KAMPALA. At least 61 South Sudanese government soldiers have defected to the South Sudan Liberation Army, a rebel group royal to Riek Machar, latest reports indicate.
The soldiers reportedly surrendered after their commanders dispatched them to attack the rebel positions in Bieh State.
“Today (yesterday) in the morning hours, the SPLA IO intercepted 61 armed regime’s fighters who were dispatched from Waat to attack Akobo and destabilize it. However, the fighters only armed with new AK-47 and 90 rounds of ammunition each decided to surrender to the SPLA IO without resistance. They were welcomed by Maj Gen James Otong Liah Deputy Sector 3 Commander and Akobo East County Commissioner Cde Jamuth Yuot Dak. The SPLA IO welcomes these soldiers, but directs its forces to be alert as this exposed the negative intention of the regime against the SPLA IO in Akobo.” Lt Col Paul Lam Gabriel, the SPLA IO deputy spokesperson said.
He also said prisoners of war who had been detained at the military intelligence and national security detention centres were also transported in a plane to reinforce the ground troops to attack the rebel positions in Adar State.
“The regime dispatched 75 soldiers in a plane to Pagak with the mission to reinforce the planned attack on SPLA IO positions and proceed to Maiwut. The 75 fighters are Prisoners of War (POW) picked from the Military Intelligence and National Security detention centres. Their deployment to Pagak is not an integration or a release but an indirect capital punishment to be executed during this planned attacks,” Lam said.
According to Lam, other areas that have witnessed increased movement of soldiers in the recent weeks include Kaya, Poki, Kaya and Morobo all in Yei River State. He said on Saturday, three Land cruisers, One Woral truck and one APC all full of soldiers were dispatched from Juba to Kajo Keji to continue the aggression on the SPLA IO forces.
“This came about as the regime’s Governor of Yei River Emmanuel Adil plans to wipe out the SPLA IO from Yei River State before any peace is signed,” he said.
He has warned that SPLA IO will not just sit and wait to be attacked all the time. He has called on the different actors monitoring the peace process to intervene and stop the regime forces from continuous violations.
Government is yet to respond to the accusations by the rebels. Our repeated calls to the South Sudan army spokesperson, Brig. Lul Ruai couldn’t go through.
Ateny Wek Ateny, Gen. Salva Kiir’s spokesperson could not also be reached to verify the accusations and allegations of the surrender of government forces to the rebels.
For close to three weeks, rebels and government forces have been locked in fierce battles in different parts of the country, ahead of the high level revitalization meeting scheduled to take place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Kajo Keji County has been the epicenter of fighting in the recent weeks with government forces on offensive against the rebels.