January 2, 2017 (JUBA) – The Tanzanian pilot initially detained by South Sudanese rebels after the plane he flew landed in the armed opposition area, has been freed.
- The chattered plane detained by rebels (courtesy photo)
A rebel official said Mohammed Nasser and the Payinjiar county commissioner, Peter Gatkoi, who was aboard the chartered plane, were freed on “humanitarian” grounds.
“The Tanzanian Pilot who was sent by Juba regime to the SPLM-IO liberated territories without his knowledge, believing he would be harmed for their propaganda purposes, has been released today with his plane on humanitarian grounds,” Garang Mabior, the armed opposition’s director for public relations, said in a statement.
Mabior also dismissed as untrue reports that they had demanded the release of Tanzanian national with the hope that he would be exchanged for rebel leader, Riek Machar’s spokesman, James Dak, who is being detained.
“There was never such a demand. This is just usual propaganda of Juba to think that The United Republic of Tanzania is supporting our movement, when no such thing exists,” the statement further added.
Mabior said the government under President Salva Kiir wanted to create a diplomatic incident. The rebel official did not elaborate on the fate of Panyijiar county Commissioner, Peter Gatkoi, who was on the same plane.
The pilot had, in an earlier interview with Sudan Tribune, blamed the country’s authorities for his woes, saying he was duped to believe Payinjiar county was under the control of government.