United Nations officials have dismissed reports that landmines were found among weapons and ammunition seized last week on its way to Bentiu in South Sudan's Unity state, and insisted that the shipment was not bound for rebels.
“The pictures that have been circulating on the Internet, claiming that landmines are among the cargo, are not correct. The pictures show, in fact, crowd control equipment,” U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Force Commander, Major General Delai Johnson Sakyi of Ghana said.
South Sudanese officials said Friday they intercepted 11 United Nations trucks carrying weapons, in violation of a U.N. rule that arms should be transported by air only in the country for security reasons.
The arms were in a shipment of "general goods" in which "several containers were wrongly labeled and inadvertently contained weapons and ammunition. This is regrettable," UNMISS said in a statement.
Ayuen Guet Roor, one of the organizers of a youth rally this week at which protesters chanted anti-U.N. slogans and carried banners that were hostile to the global body, said he believes the weapons were destined for anti-government troops.
But Sakyi insisted the seized weapons "were never intended to serve any other purpose than that of peace and protection of South Sudanese civilians."
"They were not intended for the use of any other entity than for the new Ghanaian contingent, and they were not being transported clandestinely. This is also why we readily agreed to the inspection of the cargo at the checkpoint in Rumbek,” he said.
A joint U.N.-South Sudan investigation into the shipment was due to begin Thursday.