August 29, 2016 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese army (SPLA) command has dismissed reports alleging that forces targeted innocent civilians perceived to be hoarding food items and sympathizing with youth suspected to have links with the armed opposition.
- A SPLA soldier stands in front of a vehicle in Juba on December 20, 2013. (Photo Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
The deputy spokesperson of the SPLA, Col. Santo Doming the report was an attempt to tarnish the image of the army by "anti-peace elements within the community".
He said the army command was unaware of such allegations against the military, but admitted the existence of hostile groups opposed to restoration of law and order in the area.
“For sure these are allegations do not carry any single truth. They are the work of anti-peace elements who are determined to concoct such divisive allegations to appeal an ethnic attention the activities of our gallant forces who are working hard to restore law and order in the country so that civilians to stay safe in their homes so as to resume their normal life”, said Doming.
The officer’s remarks came in the wake of allegations that security forces slaughtered five family members, who included three elders in Yei county of Central Equatoria state.
Government forces, the locals say, entered a village in Mukaya county in the early hours of Wednesday and hacked a family of five to death. They allegedly returned on Thursday in a large number estimated to be about 180 heavily armed personnel and hacked three others elders before ransacking the whole village and made away with the looted items.
The three elders, sources told Sudan Tribune on the condition of anonymity, were killed because of alleged allegiance of their sons to politicians allied to the armed opposition.
This incident came days after government forces with armed opposition forces in Gimunu, an area located 8 miles on Yei-Juba road, resulting in the death of two civilians.
Eyewitnesses said government soldiers burnt down everything in Gimunu, forcing civilians to flee the area for safety. The incident triggered a massive exodus of civilians to neigbouring Uganda, where millions of people from different ethnic groups in the country are seeking safety since 2013 in refugee camps located in neighboring nations.