South Sudan rebels deny link to detained youth in W. Bahr el Ghazal
June 17, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rebel fighters in Western Bahr el Ghazal state denied on Tuesday any link to youth arrested by the state authorities allegedly on the ground that they were found in an apparently declared “no go area” for civilians in the state.
- Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar gather in a village in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state on 8 February 2014 (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
The rebel appointed governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal state, Tingo Peter, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday they were not in any way connected to eight suspected members of the youth currently being held by the pro-government state authorities.
On Monday, state authorities claimed to have intercepted the movement of a group of youth from the area south of the state capital, Wau town, towards the rebels held areas, 50km away, with the suspected aim to join the armed opposition fighters.
The youth, allegedly including a 12-year-old boy, were taken to Wau town where they were paraded before journalists.
The general commanding officer of the government forces in its fifth division, Major Geneneral David Manyok, told reporters on Monday that the youth were captured during a night patrol in Namatina area.
The state governor, Rizik Hassan Zechariah, said the youth will be investigated for the alleged accusations that they were mobilizing to join the rebellion.
Fighting occurred two weeks ago in Bazia area, 50km from the state capital, when rebel forces allied to the former vice president, Riek Machar, launched attacks in Western Bahr el Ghazal state.
While the rebels claimed to have remained under the full control of Bazia including other villages in the payam [sub-district], the government said it had retaken the area from the opposition forces.
Sources however told Sudan Tribune that the rebels have been present in many pockets in the state and were mobilizing and recruiting youth to join the struggle against president Salva Kiir’s government.
The number of the arrested youth members was not however disclosed.