Officials in South Sudan's Morobo County said unknown gunmen kidnapped three SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) wildlife officers on duty in new Yei River State on Sunday. They said the gunmen also stole dozens of machine guns.
Officials said this is the first kidnapping and robbery in Morobo County since fighting broke out in Juba in late 2013 and quickly spread across the country.
Morobo County Commissioner Toti Jacob said the gunmen stole 40 guns, including AK-47s, and are still at large.
“If they are rebels, rebels have their leaders, they would have shown themselves that we are under a command of Mr. X, but we have not seen who is responsible for this group. We have not established exactly where they are staying. They are just moving among the people," he said.
Jacob said SPLA forces and wildlife officers failed to pursue the attackers.
The attack occurred nearly two weeks after a group of unidentified armed men held up vehicles traveling on the Yei-Morobo Road, leaving one woman injured.
Yei Deputy Governor Brigadier General Abraham Wani believes the gunmen were rebels operating underground. He blames government forces for not responding more quickly to such attacks. He said the state’s poor infrastructure does not help matters.
“The government of Yei River state comes recently from Juba. The same situation, the insecurity that is happening in Yei started before our coming. We have poor roads, lack of transport; our forces here they could not catch up in time. If I think if they were to get these outlaws, definitely, they would confront them.”
Toti called on all residents to work with security agents in identifying individuals who cause insecurity in the area.
“I want to ask our public to cooperate with us because it’s too much for us and we can’t bear it. You can imagine we are born during time of war, we grew up during time of war and we got children during time of war. Up to when are we going to stop such kind of behavior?”
Morobo County is located in the southern part of South Sudan, in the former Central Equatoria state, which borders Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.