READY FOR WAR: South Sudan soldiers
EC Village Verification

South Sudan has deployed a huge force along Juba-Nimule road that leads to the Ugandan border at Elegu after security officers were killed on the road by unknown gunmen believed to be allied to the former First Vice President, Riek Machar.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the official army of South Sudan, has been ordered to deploy troops in response to the new situation on the road connecting to Uganda that serves as the lifeline for the government.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier General Daniel Justin Boulo said at least two officers have been confirmed dead with others sustaining injuries when they were attacked on the road by the gunmen.

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“The army will help track down the bandits so that law and order is restored immediately,” said Boulo.

Residents of Nesito, an area along Juba-Nimule road said on Thursday that they had seen a convoy carrying a large police team, which included the regular police, members of criminal investigation department and paramilitary officers. Later a line of government forces followed.

Security officers who survived the attack claimed the attackers were not ordinary criminals because they used sophisticated weapons such as anti-personnel bombs and rocket-propelled grenades in the attack.

South Sudan’s National Security Council, which was chaired by President Salva Kiir with membership of his two deputies, security ministers including interior, national security and defence convened an urgent and closed meeting on Thursday during which the leadership decided to order the army’s deployment and condemned “the heinous act of killing of members of the national services who were on patrol.”

“Everything will be done to ensure the culprits are apprehended and dealt with in accordance with the law,” police spokesman told reporters on Thursday.

The council also said it wanted “peace, reconciliation and disarmament exercises” to be carried out in the affected areas.

Hundreds of people have been fleeing the remote area fearing revenge attacks. The two national security officers were killed in an ambush in Jebelain area, a remote valley where people from ethnic Madi community live in separate villages.

A legislator from the area at the national legislative assembly in the capital, Juba, who did not want to be named said that residents in the area feared they may feel the wrath of the security forces, as those behind the killings had disappeared.

“The information we are getting now is worrying. The area could be devastated. The security forces are annoyed and they will turn this anger on innocent civilians. Because of this the civilians have now started fleeing their homes. Some have started coming to Juba and others have started going towards the Uganda-South Sudan borders,” the legislator said on Thursday.

A Local administrative officer in Pageri area claimed he counted houses where up to 1,500 people are believed to have fled into the bushes after gunmen opened fire on a commercial vehicle at Loa area near Pageri town on Tuesday.

Police spokesman denied the force will target civilians but warned that in future the police will defend themselves from gunmen. He also called on the civil population to cooperate with the security forces and provide them with necessary information.