• Noah Issa Philip

Five youths abducted in Western Equatoria

Noah Issa Phillip, Juba

At least 5 young men working on the Witto-Diko road in Western Equatoria were kidnapped by an unidentified armed group on Tuesday night . Their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Speaking to media from Witto payam, local leader Serifina Kenyi commented that the men were working on the construction of the road before they were taken. Their female counterparts were left alone.

'Yes, of course 5 people have been kidnapped on Tuesday night, but we did not know who kidnappers are', Kenyi commented.

Local residents in Witto payam, the site of the alleged kidnapping.

An eyewitness, who chosen to remain anonymous, said that he was woken by around 4 armed soldiers on Tuesday night and told to hand over his mobile phone.

'At around 12 am, 4 people came to us where we were sleeping and woke us from sleeping and asked for our phones', they reported.

The eyewitness further told of how they were surrounded by the soldiers, who demanded to know who was managing the Witto-Diko road project. Then, questions were asked to ascertain which youths were local, and which had arrived from Juba to help with construction.

'They started beating the boys whom we were with and asked, where is the boss that came from Juba to open Witto-Diko road? How many are you from that came from Juba? Lemi who came from Juba identified himself as the boss and said they were five. Then the armed group ordered Juba youths to stay separately from Witto youths, and demanded to know why they had opened a route from Witto to Diko in the first place'.

The eyewitness also reported that the kidnappers had ordered the women working on the construction to sleep by the road until dawn as they took the men.

'Now you are not going to Witto at this night, we have taken these five boys who came from Juba. Sleep here till morning and when you are asked about who took these boys tell them that we are government soldiers', the witness says.

Local residents working on a bridge in Bangolo payam, guarded by a SSPDF soldier.

When asked about the incident, Capt. Morris Ngor of the South Sudan People's Defence Forces (SSPDF) denied knowledge and involvement in local incidents of looting and violence.

'I am brought here to defend the civilians of South Sudan', he said, referring to his work in Witto payam.

In addition, Ngor also noted that South Sudan is now at peace and people should respect the peace agreement and order anyone they known involved in looting and violence to cease with immediate effect.

'We are now in peace and we have to respect the peace agreement, and if anyone here is talking to their relatives outside the town should tell them that what they are doing is not good and will not take South Sudan to the next level of development', he remarked.

Captain Ngor's statement comes amidst other allegations that thieves stole phones, solar panels, clothes and money from workers building the highway between Witto and Bangolo payams last week.

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