Eyewitnesses from the Uganda – South Sudan border of Nimule reveal that a heavily-armed Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) convoy has crossed into the war ravaged country to evacuate Ugandan citizens trapped by recent fighting in the capital, Juba.
The convoy of around 50 trucks, escorted by machine gun-mounted armoured vehicles, crossed the border at Nimule, some 200km (120 miles) from Juba.
“We plan to go to Juba to extract 3,000 Ugandans stranded by fighting, but that number may grow as we will evacuate anyone who wants to leave of any nationality,” army chief Brigadier Leopold Kyanda was qouted as saying, adding, there may even be some South Sudanese who want to leave.”
On Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni ordered the evacuation of Ugandans trapped in South Sudan following fresh an eruption of fighting between forces loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir and those of his Vice-President Riek Machar which broke out last Friday leaving hundreds dead.
According to government spokesperson Mr Ofwono Opondo, President Museveni has ordered the evacuation of Ugandans who are currently assembled in Nisitu, which is east of the Nile about 40 kilometres outside Juba. Opondo says the UPDF has instructions to move to Nisitu and bring the Ugandans gathered there back to northern Uganda.
This was followed by a statement by the army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, saying UPDF would help to conduct the evacuation.
The order to evacuate Ugandans comes just a day after five Ugandan businessmen were Monday evening reportedly killed in an ambush following the continued clashes. According to eye witnesses, the incident happened at Aruu junction inside South Sudan.