The South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) have said they have killed three armed gangs whom they accused of shooting dead three Ugandan drivers plying the Kaya-Yei-Juba route.
The route has been unsafe as pockets of criminal gangs and rebels or deserters from the National Salvation Front (NAS) and the opposition army- SPLA-IO, have kept operating there since the war broke out in the country.
The Commissioner for Yei River State, Mr Aggrey Cyrus, told this reporter at the weekend that their army also recovered two guns believed to have been used in the killing on May 10.
“Army engaged the gangs in the bushes of Mugwo where they were hiding. One of the gangs escaped with injuries,” Mr Cyrus said.
He said the group is believed to be individuals who deserted SPLA-IO and NAS.
So far, 10 civilians and drivers mainly from Koboko have been killed along the unsafe Kaya-Yei-Juba route.
South Sudan army has so far recovered five guns from the gangs. The chairperson of Koboko Taxi Operators Association, Mr Swaibu Muhammed, said: “We have lost many of our colleague drivers in these attacks. With these incidences, this route should be closed and also vehicles should be stopped from crossing to South Sudan.”
He said South Sudan government should ensure that there is safety for everyone travelling via Kaya route to promote cross-border trade.
Efforts to contact the NAS spokesman were futile as his known telephone numbers were unreachable after repeated efforts.
Relatives of drivers killed last year demanded compensation from South Sudanese government, something leaders in Koboko District and their South Sudan counterparts have been discussing to date.
• In March last year, four Ugandan drivers, who were travelling to Juba on Koboko–Yei-Juba road, were killed by gunmen believed to be from National Salvation Front (NAS).
• In June 2021, three Ugandans were killed along the same route by gunmen that South Sudan government said belonged to NAS.