The spokesperson of South Sudan exiled opposition leader Riek Machar says their armed wing, Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) has not abducted school children as claimed by a government official.
The commissioner of Mundri East county, in Western Equatoria state South of the country, John Henry said Wednesday that armed rebels affliated to Machar had abducted over 500 school children from his community.
Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak was quoted by plural news website Sudan Tribune responding to the claim as “the same negative campaign launched by the rogue regime in Juba against our Movement”.
“Our forces have not abducted kids. They have never done this before and they have no intention or reason to do so,” he added
He said his office did not receive any report of abducted kids, adding that the movement is aware that thousands of civilians, mainly elderly, women and children fled into the bushes during the fighting with the government forces.
South Sudan government forces are repotedly targeting civilians in the Equatoria region accusing them of supporting the armed opposition, Dak said.
“What I have learnt is that civilians have been targeted by the regime’s forces. They therefore flee from the towns controlled by the regime. They are seeking protection away from Salva Kiir’s regime,” he said.
He said there is no reason for the SPLA-IO to abduct children, saying unlike government’s soldiers, their forces do not accept underage fighters in their ranks and file.
Credit: Sudan Tribune