Two Kenyan pilots, who were kidnapped by South Sudanese rebels, have been released after the rebels received compensation for the family of a civilian killed when their plane crashed last month, Reuters reported.
On Monday a rebel spokesman confirmed the pilots’ release after Kenya’s foreign ministry spokesman said that the pilots had arrived in South Sudan’s capital Juba.
The plane of the pilots crashed in Akobo, in the Greater Upper Nile region, in early January killing a woman and livestock.
Consequently the rebels, from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), demanded compensation for the family of the dead woman and for others who lost livestock.
Deputy spokesperson for the SPLA-IO, Lam Paul Gabriel, confirmed that that $107,700 had been paid.
“I have just confirmed now that pilots have been released by the local leaders of Akobo after they received full compensation from the Kenyan delegates,” Lam said.
“That is not a ransom. It is just a compensation requested not by the SPLA-IO but by the families of the deceased and the owners of the properties. All we did as SPLM-IO is facilitate the exchange and provide security for the pilots.”
The world’s newest country continues to be wracked by civil war which broke out again in 2013 shortly after President Salva Kiir fired the leader of the SPLA-IO Dr Riek Machar – who is currently in exile in South Africa – as his deputy.
Tens of thousands have been killed, a third of the population has been displaced, oil production has mostly closed down and the economy has been decimated.
Repeated attempts by regional players, including the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU), to bring the two sides together have been constantly stalled by both parties.
Mediation talks, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 5 to 16 February, on security arrangements and power sharing were suspended last week after the government and the opposition failed to reach a compromise on outstanding issues.
The talks were part of the Second Phase of the High Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF) on the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, 2015 (ARCSS).
During the talks mediators and facilitators presented two texts reviewing the dispositions of Chapter I on the power-sharing and Chapter II on the security arrangements.
– African News Agency (ANA)