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Arrow Boys defect to SPLA-IO in Western Equatoria state

February 7, 2016 (JUBA) – A faction of Arrow Boys said they have defected from the alliance with the government and joined the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by former Vice-President, Riek Machar.

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Arrow Boys seen here in May 2010, patrol a village in south Sudan in an attempt to defend themselves from attacks LRA rebels (AFP)

The group, said to be 8,000 in number, last year in September was reported by President Salva Kiir’s government to have struck a deal with them to join forces allied to Juba, although details of the said peace deal never surfaced and clashes ensued between them and government forces in the area this year.

Commander of the SPLA-IO forces in Western Equatoria state, Major General Henry Malesh Louis claimed that the SSNA faction has declared allegiance to the SPLA-IO leadership.

“SPLA-IO forces operating in Western Equatoria state under [the command] of Major General Henry Malesh Louis are announcing the South Sudan National Army that joined SPLA-IO on date 5th /2/2016 in the area of Rangu payam early last night [Friday],” said General Louis in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

“We [the] SPLA-IO in Western Equotoria state welcome this army under the [command] of Brigadier General Abel Mathwo Banga. We received 8,000 (eight thousand) troops under command of Brigadier General Abel Mathwo Banga and one hundred [and] fifty officers who withdrew from South Sudan National Army and joined the SPLA-IO in Western Equatoria state, Yambio,” he added.

He said they decided to defect from the government due to clarity on the peace deal they signed and government’s reluctance to implement it by integrating their forces.

The SPLA-IO force commander in the area also accused government forces of carrying out atrocities against the civil populations in Western Equatoria state by targeting villages, killing people, burning their houses and displacing them.

He said a humanitarian catastrophe has been inflicted on the populations due to the gross human rights violations by government forces.

(ST)