South Sudan opposition forces allied to exiled leader Riek Machar dismisses recent reports about their involvement in the abduction of Ugandan traders en route to Juba for a ransom.
Speaking to the media in Kampala, South Sudan police chief Gen Makur Maruol said Sunday that Ugandan traders were captured during ambushes along the Nimule – Juba road by a group reportedly affiliated to the exiled opposition leader and are demanding a ransom.
“I have learnt that some of the relatives are receiving calls from [the abductors demanding]for a ransom. We’ll make all the available means to secure the release of the two. It is a joint venture,” Maruol said.
Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said “SPLA-IO forces have not abducted any Ugandan citizen, or any other national, or allegedly asked for money as ransom in order to release them,”
Dak added that the claims such as Maruol’s are intended to diplomatically discredit the opposing forces through “negative propaganda” and also to “persuade Uganda to deploy in South Sudan once again”
He also said “…senior police officers who lied about this to Ugandan authorities while in “Kampala” could be making the propaganda as a sort of lucrative project to get money from in the name of “asked” fake ransom somewhere. Or they could be the ones holding Ugandan nationals hostage somewhere”
Media reports in Kampala indicate that until end of August, a total of 41 known Ugandans had been reported captured by a rebel group believed to be loyal to Machar. They were picked from Kampala bound buses and along border districts.
Records by the South Sudan Police indicate that up to 26 Ugandans are still held in the rebel group
South Sudan National Police thereby asked Uganda Police to hand over supporters of Machar suspected to be rebels. The ‘supporters’ are believed to have entered Uganda as refugees in the last two years yet have been labeled rebels by the South Sudan Authorities.