JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - South Sudan reacted with skepticism Friday to Khartoum's announcement that it will release five Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) prisoners of war next week.
SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said the announcement of the prisoner release went against the grain for Sudan, and South Sudan was trying to get more details.
Aguer said, "Khartoum has never preserved even a single life of the SPLA soldiers they captured" during the 22-year civil war in Sudan, which ended in 2005, when a peace deal was signed.
"So now, talking about five prisoners of war, we will have to know when they were captured, from which area," he said.
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) announced this week that it will hand over five South Sudanese prisoners of war to the Red Cross on February 11 in the city of Nially in Darfur, and called for a reciprocal gesture from the south.
SAF spokesman, Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad, said the soldiers were captured in South Darfur in April last year.
Aguer said South Sudan was not in a position to reciprocate because it is holding no northern soldiers captive.
The last time South Sudan captured prisoners of war was in April 2012 in Heglig, the oil town that the once unified Sudans fought over from late March until late April last year, he said.
But, added Aguer, all of those POWs were turned over to the Egyptian ambassador to South Sudan in the presence of the Red Cross shortly after the conflict ended.