South Sudan

South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by former First Vice President Riek Machar on Monday said 61 government soldiers surrendered in the North-Eastern Akobo State near the Ethiopian border.

“The SPLA-IO intercepted 61 armed regime 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,” deputy rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel said in a statement. Gabriel also alleged that 75 Prisoners of War (POWs) were dispatched in a plane by government to Pagak near the Ethiopian border to reinforce the planned attack on SPLA-IO positions. “The 75 fighters are Prisoners of War (POW) picked from the Military Intelligence and National Security detention centers. Their deployment to Pagak is not integration or a release but an indirect capital punishment to be executed during these planned attacks,” Gabriel said.

However, there was no comment from South Sudan army spokesman Brigadier Lul Ruai Koang. This came after the Ceasefire Transitional and Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) on March 29 expressed deep concern regarding ongoing reports and allegations of hostilities in the southern area of Central Equatoria and areas of Upper Nile and warned of punitive action on violators of the 2017 December Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (ACOH). The SPLA-IO called on the CTSAMM, UNMISS to hold the government responsible for any clash that may arise as a result of these provocations. South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his former deputy Riek Machar leading to fighting between mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir and ethnic Nuer soldiers loyal to Machar. The violence has killed tens of thousands leaving four million people living as refugees in neighboring countries. The efforts by regional leaders to revive the 2015 peace agreement shattered in the wake of renewed violence in July 2016 are yet to bear fruit as they have been indefinitely suspended after the warring parties failed to make headway.

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