August 17, 2016 (JUBA) – A co-national army in South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), has accused forces loyal to President Salva Kiir of painting white with United Nations (UN) symbol their military vehicles in order to confuse and attack their troops around Juba.
- SPLA soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion pose at the SPLA headquarters in Nyang, in the county of Yirol East, on February 15, 2014 (Photo AFP/Fabio Bucciarelli)
The SPLA-IO Sector Commander, Lieutenant General John Jok Gai, who is in charge of coordinating military activities in Central Equatoria state, said government forces have resorted to painting their military vehicles white and attacked their forces unaware who mistook them for UN vehicles.
“We have learned that soldiers of Salva Kiir have resorted to painting white - with UN symbol -their vehicles that have recently attacked our forces on Juba-Yei road and on Juba-Lobonok road. We therefore call on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to ensure that they communicate to us any of their plans to travel on roads outside Juba. This is because the government is using the UN symbol on vehicles that attack our forces,” said Lt. Gen. Gai in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Also, he claimed their forces were attacked by a helicopter painted white with UN symbol.
The opposition’s army commander said the aim of the government was to confuse the opposition forces that control some of the routes and allow them to pass, believing that they belonged to the UN system.
General Gai added that his forces have been attacked twice by government forces in military vehicles painted with the UN symbol.
He further informed that the soldiers attacking them were however identified to be members of the South Sudanese army loyal to President Kiir.
UNMISS, he added, should coordinate with them their movement outside Juba, either by air or land, including identifying the number of vehicles that travel on a particular day so as to avoid the inconveniences.
The SPLA official spokesperson was not available for comment on these accusations.