SOUTH SUDAN – Rebels kidnap eight Christian charity workers
South Sudanese rebels have kidnapped eight local aid workers employed by a US charity Samaritan’s Purse a military spokesman said. The aid workers were taken from a village near Mayendit, about 420 miles (680 km) northeast of the capital of Juba.
“The rebel attacked and abducted eight local staff from Samaritan’s Purse and they are being held to ransom. They (the rebels) have demanded that the organization takes aid to them,” said Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang. Last Sunday at least 23 people were killed and 56 injured in the same area in clashes between the army and rebels. Insurgents had attacked government positions, looting and setting fire to houses in the oil-rich Bieh state.
“They attacked our position on Sunday. Our forces fought back in self defense and managed to repulse the attackers,” Koang said.
Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian humanitarian organization, confirmed the kidnappings in a media statement. The organisation said it has managed to contact its kidnapped workers and they have not been harmed.
In late February, South Sudan’s government and UN agencies said Mayiandit and other areas were facing severe famine and deteriorating security conditions. Reports say that the kidnapped workers were being held by rebels in the hope of obtaining food. Samaritan’s Purse said “We call on all the parties involved to immediately provide complete and unfettered humanitarian access in order to meet the needs of a starving population in order to save lives.” Samaritan’s Purse urged.