August 2, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan army has said that detained SPLA-IO military officer, Brigadier General Gabriel Bol Wek, is a highway robber and criminal and was arrested after an attempt to ambush members of the SSPDF forces who are carrying out disarmament process in Tonj County.
Last month, General Wek who is said to be a member of the SPLA-IO was arrested along with some forces between Tonj and Wau, reportedly after a confrontation between SPLA-IO and the SSPDF at a training center there.
The SPLA-IO said the arrested officer belongs to them and that he was going to a town near Wau where he and some members of the main armed opposition group were preparing to welcome the newly appointed governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal state.
The SPLA-IO demanded his immediate release and said some government soldiers and civilians who were arrested by their forces in retaliation to General Wek’s detention have been released.
Since then, the SPLA-IO has been calling for his immediate release.
However, speaking to Nyamilepedia this afternoon, Major General Lul Ruai Koang, the South Sudan army spokesman, denied the claim by SPLA-IO that General Wek is one of their military commanders.
He said the detained officer is just an armed civilian who has been terrorizing civilians along high-ways in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region.
“General Gabriel Wek Bol is a high-way robber. When he was arrested by the SSPDF, he was arrested because he has been committing crimes on the high-ways between Tonj, Wau and Rumbek. We were surprised when the SPLA-IO said that he is one of their commanders,” Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said from Juba.
Lul explained that Wek was arrested following an attempt by him and other criminals to ambush SSPDF forces going to disarm civilians who have been fighting each other in several parts of Tonj County.
“When he was arrested, he laid an ambush and the ambush was foiled leading to his arrest by the SSPDF forces that were in the area,” he said.
Lul further denied reports from the SPLA-IO that the civilians who were detained by their forces have been released. He said those who were detained are still under the custody of the SPLA-IO and said there was no justification for their arrest.
“Again, there is no connection between civilians and any issue between SPLA-IO and SSPDF. After we arrested General Wek Bol, the SPLA-IO arrested civilians, what is the relation between our actions as an army and that of the civilians?” he asked.
“The civilians are still being detained by the SPLA-IO. It is not true that they have been released. They have put a condition in place that they will not release the civilians unless Wek Bol who is a high-way criminal is released and this is not right,” he further said.