UPDF hands over suspected NAS members to SSPDF

UPDF hands over suspected NAS members to SSPDF
NAS leader Gen. Thomas Cirilo (photo credit: courtesy)

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces [UPDF] has handed over two suspected members of the NAS to South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), the Ugandan press has reported.

The two were handed over to the SSPDF at the Elegu border.

The two suspects were identified as Corporal Victor Batal, 45 years of age, and Augustine Yakal, 21. The two men, said to be the residents of Morobo County in Central Equatoria State, were arrested last year in November 2020.

Batal was arrested from a place called small London in Koboko District and Yakal from Busia bordering Uganda and Kenya.

In a statement to the Ugandan media, the UPDF and SSPDF said during their repatriation that Batal said he was arrested by SPLA-IO in 2016 to join the opposition struggle as a soldier or risk being killed. They said Batal revealed he was the truck driver who moved between South Sudan and Uganda before he was arrested to join the struggle.

They said after his arrest, he was taken for military training and later on posted at Panyam village I, in Morobo County, where he served from 2016 to 2017. He said after the SPLA-IO split, he decamped to National Salvation Front where he got the opportunity to escape to Uganda where he was arrested.

Meanwhile, Yakal said he was arrested when he was only 18 years old while working as a Boda Boda rider in Morobo County in 2018. He was then taken for military training near Yei County. He said he spent one and half years in the bush and later escaped to Busia where he was arrested.

South Sudan People’s Defense Forces [SSPDF] Liasion Officer at Elegu, Capt. Jamel Majok said Uganda and South Sudan would continue to coordinate in the matters of national security and mutual coexistence between the two countries.  

The UPDF 4th Division Officer, Brg.Gen Bonny Bamwisike, lauded the incident as a sign of peace and security as a diplomatic role between the two countries.

In August 2021, SSPDF blamed the National Salvation Front (NAS) led by Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka for the continuous attack on passengers along Juba – Nimule.

The accusation came after two nuns and three other passengers were killed in a road ambush between Aru and Kubi village when they were returning to Juba from Loa Parish.

Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, the SSPDF spokesperson, earlier said that several factors should be put together to solve the issues of Nimule – Juba road attacks.

He said the international community has a role to play to advise or to warn the National Salvation Front leadership that it is wrong for innocent civilians to be targeted along the road.

He said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) should take the lead in warning NAS that it is a human crime for an armed organization with a political objective to target innocent civilians using the road.