Two killed, child injured in ambush on SPLM delegates in Budi County

A female member of an SPLM delegation and a driver were killed, and a child was injured in an ambush along the Camp 15-Chukudum road on Wednesday

A female member of an SPLM delegation and a driver were killed, and a child was injured in an ambush along the Camp 15-Chukudum road on Wednesday. The attack occurred as the delegates were returning from the SPLM’s Equatoria regional endorsement event for President Salva Kiir in Juba.

On Friday, May 24, 2024, thousands of SPLM supporters from the eight counties of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State travelled to Juba for the endorsement. The delegates returned to Torit on Sunday and Monday before dispersing to their respective counties and payams.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday, Budi County Commissioner Akileo Mboya Peter confirmed the incident, stating that most of the convoy scattered into the bush after the ambush, but all were later accounted for, including the deceased.

“Yes, it is true. At around 2:00 pm, a convoy carrying delegates returning from the SPLM presidential endorsement in Juba was ambushed on their way back to Budi County. Two people were killed, one person was wounded, and a three-month-old child went missing but was later found alive. We are still investigating to identify the names and ages of the victims,” Mboya told Radio Tamazuj.

“Among those who lost their lives, one is a female, and the driver of the vehicle also died. Additionally, another female was wounded in the ambush, which took place in Ngarera, Lohibor Boma, Komiri Payam. It is still too early for us to assign blame, but we have dispatched a security team to establish the facts about the incident and follow the footprints. Only then can we determine who these attackers are,” he added.

The official condemned the incident in the strongest terms, calling it an aggression against the government and the community of Budi County. He urged locals to remain calm and allow room for investigations to be conducted. He further explained that the government would take drastic measures to ensure all perpetrators are brought to justice.

Colonel Mathew Ochan Jacob, the police spokesperson in Eastern Equatoria State, distanced himself from the incident, stating that the police had not received any information about it. “No, there is no information. You should try to reach the Ministry of Information first for better details about the incident. Let me collect the data first,” Colonel Ochan said.

Bosco Lotyang, an SPLM-IG member of parliament at the Eastern Equatoria State Legislative Assembly, expressed sadness over the act, noting that it highlights the insecurity of the roads and the need for increased efforts to curb such issues.

“Ngarera has been a hotspot, and we have been discussing the need for deployment along that corridor. Many times, this area has been known for looting by unknown individuals. While we cannot point fingers without evidence, we have had suspicions. We need serious efforts to curb this insecurity along our roads and in our villages to end this disturbing threat to our people,” Lotyang said.

When asked whether the attackers specifically targeted SPLM supporters, the lawmaker responded, “It is very difficult to judge. We are in a multi-party country with many opposition groups, so we cannot immediately attribute this to any particular group. It could be an attempt to sabotage SPLM plans or simply a criminal act by individuals, possibly raiders.”

He continued, “It’s challenging to determine if this was a political move to sabotage the elections or just criminal activity. If some people want to disrupt the elections to maintain their leadership, we don’t know. However, SPLM has decided that elections must take place so that people can elect leaders they trust. We support the elections, but if there are individuals who oppose them, they should come forward and explain their concerns. We can try to understand their situation, but the elections must proceed.”