South Sudan armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) allied to South Sudan’s former first vice president Riek Machar has condemned a foiled attempt to kidnap one of their officials from the Ugandan capital, Kampala last week.
Unknown armed men briefly abducted South Sudan rebel spokesman, Paul Lam Gabriel in Uganda, but was released after the police intervened, the official told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
The abductors, Lam said, warned him to desist from talking to media.
Rebel spokesperson, William Gatjiath lauded Ugandan authorities for swiftly responding Lam’s kidnapping from Kampala on 18 August.
“Upon learning the abduction, the Ugandan police and security agencies quickly intervened and successfully rescue Col. Paul Gabriel Lam from being smuggled illegally to Juba without the knowledge of Ugandan authorities,” said Gatjiath.
He said the recent attempt to deport the deputy spokesperson by unknown people was an “insult” to the Ugandan president who has tirelessly been working to ensure that peace returns to South Sudan.
According to the United Nations Refugees Agency (UNHCR), the number of South Sudanese in Uganda has now exceeded one million.
“We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the government and the people of Uganda for ensuring and safeguarding the security of all South Sudanese, regardless of their ethnic, religious or political backgrounds, anywhere in Uganda,” stressed Gatjiath.
Lam, according the official, was kidnapped using a South Sudanese embassy vehicle before he was allegedly shifted to a silver-colored car.
Among the abductors was reportedly a man in a military uniform.
Uganda police authorities confirmed Lam’s abduction in a separate interview with Sudanese news outlet, Sudan Tribune.
South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Machar denied the accusation and launched a rebel movement.
The South Sudanese rebel leader, who currently remains exiled in South Africa, says he does not recognize President Kiir’s government.
Last year, Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, was arrested by Kenyan authorities and deported to South Sudan last year from Nairobi. He has been seen in solitary confinement in a prison in Juba.
The South Sudanese conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than two million civilians in less than five years.