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South Sudanese opposition says no abducted children in WES

October 27, 2016 (JUBA) – The armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) has not abducted kids and has no intention to do so, says media official.

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The newly graduated fire brigade officers in Yambio March 14, 2016 (ST)

“This is the same negative campaign launched by the rogue regime in Juba against our Movement. Our forces have not abducted kids. They have never done this before and they have no intention or reason to do so,” said James Gatdet Dak, spokesperson for the opposition leader, Riek Machar.

He was responding to accusation by the government that opposition forces of the SPLA-IO have abducted about 500 school children in Mundri East county in Western Equatoria state (WES).

Speaking to media from Mundri West county where there is mobile network, the commissioner of Mundri East county, John Henry, on Wednesday said an armed group believed to be members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) attacked Kediba town from different corners and allegedly rounded up school children. They also allegedly targeted his house during the attack of which the town was under their control for some days before they withdrew to the bush.

But Dak said his office did not receive any report of abducted kids, but said thousands of civilians, mainly elderly, women and children fled into the bushes during the fighting with the government forces.

Dak also added that civilians fear being targeted by government forces who accuse them of supporting the opposition faction and therefore flee from the government’s controlled territories in search for protection and safety in the areas controlled by the SPLA-IO.

“What I have learnt is that civilians have been targeted by the regime’s forces. They therefore flee from the towns controlled by the regime. They are seeking protection away from Salva Kiir’s regime,” he said.

He said there is no reason for the SPLA-IO to abduct children, saying unlike government’s soldiers, their forces do not accept underage fighters in their ranks and file.