“Dozens of civilians suspected to be relatives or sympathizers of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) in Mukaya Payam of Lainya County continue to be kidnapped and held hostages by an unknown terrorist group, an act that SPLM-IO strongly condemns,” the statement said.
“The group comes from the side of Mo’dile and Harvesters in Yei via Savannah to Dimu in Mukaya where they terrorize and kidnap people. They also target our members who go to visit their families in Mukaya,” the statement further said.
“In the most recent attacks, the group kidnapped and held hostages; Maj. Isa and the wife, 1st Lt. Stephen Lemi and his father Sarabadin who were kidnapped from their house, Pvt Luga lo Roji, Wani lo Lupayi, a civilian who was detained and released yesterday and one other civilian who they wrote his name on his back using hot iron metal. According to the civilians, many of their relatives are missing, an indication that more other people are being held hostages by the group elsewhere,” it added
“The group doesn’t only keep those kidnapped as hostages, but subject them to heavy work like harvesting crops of the civilians in the area. For example, elder Sarabadin, father to 1st Lt. Stephen Lemi was forced by the terrorists to harvest over fifty bags of cassava. They also use hot iron metals to write funny things on the back of the SPLA-IO soldiers and supporters they have kidnapped. We call upon CTSAMM and other rights bodies to investigate this group and establish who they are and impose an appropriate punishment on them,” the statement further added.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.
A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.
Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement. Peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa resumed on Thursday with little optimism as President Kiir said he is unwilling to accept the return of the country’s former first vice president and two armies both of whom are major opposition demands.
The IGAD has given the negotiating parties May 21st as the ultimatum to sign peace but it is still unclear what would be the consequences in case the warring parties do not meet the dateline.