October 9, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan army (SPLA) issued a statement on Sunday, seeking regional support that could see its armed oppostion faction (SPLM-IO) led by the country’s former vice-president, Riek Machar designated as a "terrorist" group.
- 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 army spokesman, Brig. Lul Ruai Koang told the state-owned SSBC that 21 people were confirmed dead after several commercial vehicles travelling along the Yei-Juba road were attacked at Ganji area Saturday morning.
“Yes, I would like to confirm that this unfortunate incident has occurred. It took place yesterday morning on Saturday when vehicles carrying citizens who were going to Juba came under attack. They were ambushed by the opposition at an area called Ganyi and they killed 21 people, and about 20 others were wounded," said Koang.
He further claimed a man, 15 children and five women lost their lives, while 20 others sustained injuries. The attackers, he added, also burnt a commercial vehicle.
“We are heading to the area to bury those people now," said the army spokesperson, who claimed a faction allied to Machar carried out Saturday’s attack.
“We always tell people that Riek Machar has no programs. He has no vision. We always tell this to the international community that there will not be peace because of Riek Machar. His interest is only to return to power at expense of the suffering of the people of South Sudan. He is a violent man. So we call upon IGAD,Troika, and friends of South Sudan to declare Riek Machar’s forces as terrorists," Koang, an ex-SPLM-IO stressed.
Survivors of the attack, family members and eyewitnesses said several passengers were killed after a vehicle travelling to Juba from Yei came under attack near Lainya.
The attackers, a survivor narrated, wore masks when they attacked the vehicle.
"Few people jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the bush when the lorry came to a halt. Afterwards the gunmen systematically started separating people on the basis of ethnicity from others by asking people whether there were members of ethnic Dinka, a tribe of president Salva Kiir or not," he told Sudan Tribune Sunday.
Those found to be ethnic Dinka, an eyewitness said, were executed, including women and children and then burnt the vehicle, claims Sudan Tribune could not easily substantiate.
*Among the dead were four children who were 13, 11, 8 and 7 years old. The bodies of the children were brought to Juba. Many of the bodies have not yet been recovered and the exact number of the people who died among the 200 passengers has not yet been ascertained," explained the eyewitness
The attack comess in the wake of another incident in which 14 members of ethnic Dinka were killed in a similar ambush a week ago just few kilometers outside Juba.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir is an ethnic Dinka and his performance is attributed to the role the Jieng Council of Eders (JCE) has been playing in managing the affairs of the young nation, resulting in alleged targeting of innocent civilians from other tribes.