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Army to disarm Tombura

By Bida Elly David

 

South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) will conduct disarmament exercises in Tombura County, Western Equatoria State, following deadly violence between armed groups.

The last two weeks have turned Tombura into a battleground for rival armed militias, leading to killings, abductions and displacement of thousands into IDP camps.

Speaking to No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, SSPDF spokesperson, Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said the army has to ensure amnesty in the area by disarming the population.

According to Gen. Ruai, one of the top army commanders has already gone to Tombura, to carry out disarmament exercise.

“He was authorized to do either peaceful or forceful disarmament,” he said.

The SSPDF spokesperson stated that the exercise has not yet commenced since the SSPDF first wanted to engage the community and youth leaders.

“The commander in the first stage will engage the community and the youth leaders on the need for them to voluntarily hand over their guns,” he said.

Furthermore, he highlighted that if they fail to comply with the request, the SSPDF will use forceful methods to claim the guns.

Gen. Lul echoed that the importance of the disarmament exercise is to restore peace and stability in the county and across the state.

“This is to reduce insecurity because there are firearms in the hands of civilians; they use them for killing themselves, looting, and doing a lot of crimes,” Lul stated.

The spokesperson of the army pointed out that it is their mandate to ensure the removal of guns from civilians to mitigate the gravity of insecurity against civilians in the state.

“We want to remove the guns, including crude weapons like bows, arrows, pangas, and machetes, from the hands of those civilians so that they do not escalate the fighting,” he underscored.

However, Lul did not clarify how long the disarmament process would last.

“We cannot give a time frame for the exercise; it will take as long as it is required for them to be disarmed,” Lul emphasized.

The army spokesperson described the Tombura clashes as improper since the community is fighting among themselves.

“There was no proper conflict; it was targeted killing; there was no frontal confrontation between the two groups; they target individuals, loot them, invade houses, and kill people, so it was not a proper kind of confrontation,” he stated.

Meanwhile, efforts to reach the Western Equatoria State authorities for comment on the process were not successful by press time.

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