March 13, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudanese rebels have denied reports that its troops kidnapped eight local workers of an international charity entity.
- Oxfam aid workers in Mingkaman, South Sudan, oversee the distribution of food to displaced people in August 2014. (Photo Pablo Tosco/Oxfam)
The eight Samaritan Purse workers were reportedly taken from a village near Mayendit, located about 680 km northeast of the South Sudan capital, Juba.
"We do not have any relation with this incident," a spokesperson for the rebels told Sudan Tribune Monday, adding "This is a mere rumour spread by the government".
The government military spokesperson, Lul Ruai Koang on Monday said the armed opposition forces kidnapped aid workers and demanded aid deliveries as "ransom".
"The rebels attacked and abducted eight local staff from Samaritan’s Purse and they are being held to ransom. They have demanded that the organisation takes aid to them," Brig. Lul Ruai Koang told Reuters.
The international charity entity has acknowledged the kidnapping its aid workers.
The incident comes barely a week after the rebels kidnapped two Indian engineers working for an oil company in the young nation.
The kidnapping of the eight aid workers is likely to hamper humanitarian efforts to assist civilians in a nation where years of a violent conflict have reportedly left over 100,000 people on the verge of facing starvation. At least 5 million people or more than 40% of the country’s population are in need of urgent food assistance, aid agencies say.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has denied reports
Years of civil war, a refugee crisis and a collapsing economy have taken a toll on South Sudan since it gained independence in 2011. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in the country’s worst ever violence since it seceded from North Sudan in 2011.