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Bentiu, 28th Sept 2017; Brig General William Gatjiath Deng, the spokesperson of main armed opposition of SPLA-IO loyal to former vice President Riek Machar, on Thursday has accused Juba regime forces for using civilians in Upper Nile as human shield. 

"Juba regime conscripting civilians as human shields! As a majority of the Juba regime soldiers enter seventh month without salaries, so has the number of deserting soldiers from the frontlines indeed significantly weakened the Juba regime in prosecuting its military solution to the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS)" 

Brig Deng claimed there has been significant numbers of defection from Juba regime forces, siding the huge defection attributed to government inability to pay the salaries of its troops which is already weakened in many frontlines. Deng however did not provide the specific numbers of the regime forces who have defected and which rebel groups the defectors have joined. 

"In response to this very dire situation, the ethnocentric Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) regime in Juba has at least for the last four months or so increasingly turned to forceful conscription of innocent civilians as human shields in its ongoing offensive particularly in Upper Nile and Unity States" lamented the armed opposition military spokesperson.  

William Gatjiath Deng further said, "The forceful conscription by the Juba regime of some four hundred and seventy purely Chollo (Shilluk) civilians in Pachoda/Fasoda as human shields is not only intended to inflict maximum bloodshed on and accelerate total annihilation of the Chollo people during the offensive, but also is a very clear indication of Juba regime use of innocent civilian locations as a staging grounds and observation posts for launching attacks on SPLA (IO) positions and bases in the area and indeed across South Sudan".  

He noted that regime forces are also using the same tactic of forceful conscription of innocent civilian as human shield in Unity State. 

"The same forceful conscription of innocent civilians by the Juba regime in Rubkona, Guit and Bentiu, among others, to act as human shields for the JCE regime in Juba turned two days ago into violent frustration and led to the loss of innocent lives when heavily armed Juba regime soldiers, on direct orders from Taban Deng Gai (TDG), JCE’s leading and most senior instability agent, attacked, killed and injured some IDPs sheltering in the UN Protection (POC) Site in Bentiu".  

While we in the SPLM-SPLA (IO) under the able and visionary leadership of Dr Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon condemn with contempt it deserves the forceful conscription and targeted killings of innocent civilians, we also would like to remind the Ghanaian UN contingent in Bentiu not to take side and concentrate on ensuring the UN mandate of protecting civilians is implemented accordingly. 


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