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S. Sudan rebels demand compensation to free Kenyan pilots

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January 23, 2018 (JUBA) – Two Kenyan pilots currently being held in a rebel-controlled territory of war-torn South Sudan will not be freed until compensation is paid, a rebel spokesperson said on Tuesday.

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A cargo plane in Unity state (UNHCR photo)

The plane crashed two weeks ago in Akobo county in the Greater Upper Nile region, the deputy rebel spokesperson, Lam Paul Gabriel said.

“When the plane crashed, it took a life. There was a lady that was killed and also there were some animals killed. The relatives of the lady and the owners of the cows are complaining they want compensation,” Lam told Reuters.

“They [Kenya] have to write an official letter to Dr. Riek Machar and it will come to us to inform of an order, then we will release him,” he added.

The South Sudanese military spokesman, Lul Ruai Koang confirmed the detention of the pilots, saying the plane had technical problems.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government said all efforts are underway to secure the release of two Kenyan pilots being held in South Sudan.

The abductors, according to Kenya’s foreign affairs office, are demanding a fine after the plane killed a person and a few animals.

The state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) reported that the rebels have vowed that Captain Frank Njoroge and co-pilot Kennedy Shamalla would not be released until a Ksh20 million fine was paid.

The two Kenyans were reportedly abducted and put under tight security in a town near the Ethiopian border soon after the incident. They plane was hired by a Juba-based non-governmental entity to ferry its staff to Upper Nile state.

(ST)

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