May 3, 2016 (BOR) – Heavy armed Ethiopian troops entered South Sudan territory in search of children abducted in last month’s raid in the Horn of Africa nation, sources said.
An eyewitness said he witnessed over 20 tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) patrolling areas in Pochalla town.
“A lot of troops from Ethiopia slept in Pochalla and in the morning of May 3, they started their journey toward the direction of Pibor, with heavy weapons. We also saw, this morning, jet fighters, flying over from the direction of Gambella towards Pibor and returned. They come to look for their abducted children”, said the eyewitness.
The Boma state coordinator in Juba said he was informed about the presence of Ethiopian troops, who were in different places, including Jebel Raat, Akobo and Pochalla.
“The Ethiopian troops are either in or around these areas right now,” Gabriel Amokori told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
He, however, said the Boma state governor and South Sudan government were in all contact with their Ethiopian counterparts regarding the fate of the children abducted.
“Our government is telling the Ethiopian government to hold on a bit so that the children are searched for and handed over to them [Ethiopians]”, said Amakori.
The Boma state information minister, Julius James Otong, said he had heard about the entry of the Ethiopian troops into Boma state territory, but said her office had not got full information about their whereabouts over the last two days.
“I heard about them, but I have not got full information about where they are today,” said Otong.
According to the minister, state authorities, with the help of the area local chiefs had managed to rescue 32 children from Likuangole county through a village-to-village search.
“The president issued an order that the abducted children from Ethiopia should be collected and returned to their families. So the deputy governor went and met the chiefs in Likuangole to bring the children. So the chief went and brought 32 children. These children are still in our hands in Likuangole. We want to hand them over to UN so that they are flown back to their area in Gambella,” said the minister.
“We still expect more children to be recovered from Likuangole so the search is ongoing in villages”, she added.
Likuangole, bordering Akobo to the north, Uror to north-west, Duk and Twic East counties to the west, is the home area of the governor of Boma state, Baba Medan Konyi.