JUBA – Military intelligence of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has handed over two suspected National Salvation Front (NAS) rebels to the South Sudan government.
The suspected rebels include Corporal Victor Batal, 45, and Augustine Yakal, 21, all residents of Morobo County, Central Equatoria state in South Sudan. Batal was arrested from Small London in Koboko District while Yakal from Busia in November 2020.
In his statement to the military, Batal alleges that in 2016, rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – SPLM in Opposition (IO) captured him and asked him to either join the opposition struggle as a soldier or die.
Batal who was a truck driver between Uganda and South Sudan before the captivity, further alleged that he was taken for military training and later deployed at Panyam village, Mugo County in Central Equatorial and served in SPLM – IO army between 2016- 2017.
When the SPLM-IO split between 2018 to 2019, he crossed to serve the National Salvation Front under the command of Thomas Cerilo Soka. It’s from here that he got an opportunity to escape from the NSF forces and crossed to Uganda where he was arrested.
Meanwhile, Yakal in his statement claims that at the time of his captivity, he was 18 years old and was working as a Boda Boda cyclist in Morobo County, Central Equatorial Province. He said he was captured in 2018, and forcefully taken for military training in Akefa near Yei County.
While at Akefa, Yakal revealed he spent one year and a half and escaped from captivity in 2020 to join his parent who had relocated to Uganda and currently residing in Busia, where was arrested.
Brig. Gen. Bonny Bamwisike, the UPDF 4th Division Commander handed over the two suspects as a good gesture in pursuance of peace, security and diplomatic relations.
Captain Jamel Majok, the Liaison Officer of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces said Uganda and South Sudan will continue to coordinate in matters of their national security and mutual co-existence. //Cue in: “Actually we coordinate…
However, Batal, one of the rebel suspects expressed fear and opposed their extradition to South Sudan without the involvement of an independent body like the United Nations or Amnesty Commission.
They were escorted by the UPDF through Elegu border in Amuru District, the main point of entry to South Sudan. The UPDF says it is a habit of the SPLM-IO and the NSF rebels to conscript youths and men into their ranks, and several cases were registered particularly in Adjumani and Koboko in West Nile and Kitgum and Lamwo in Acholi.
South Sudan authorities have accused NAS rebels of fighting against the Juba administration under Salvar Kiir since March 2017. The group has been widely blamed for attacks on foreign cargo fleets along the Nimule-Juba highway.