SPLM/A rejects government account of ICRC attack

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) on Thursday reiterated its denial of having had anything to do with the shooting of an ICRC pilot on 9 May, and said the government-controlled media in Sudan were “peddling lies” when they accused it of involvement. The Khartoum-based ‘Akhbar al-Yawm’ newspaper, among others, had reported that the rebel movement was secretly carrying out investigations into the attack on the ICRC aircraft, which claimed the life of its Danish co-pilot. SPLM/A spokesman Samson Kwaje said the reports were “false and malicious”, and that the movement had no reason to shoot at an ICRC plane that was clearly marked. Kwaje said the SPLM/A had reliable information that the incident occurred west of the Didinga Hills (4.05 N; 33.31 E), some 65 km south of Kapoeta town in southeastern Sudan, over territory mostly controlled by pro-government militias under the leadership of Captain Peter Lorot. The government army, which controls Kapoeta town, was responsible for the incident, because it directed Lorot’s operations, he added.

The SPLM/A welcomed an inquiry into the incident, was “having a useful dialogue and consultation with ICRC” on the matter, and would cooperate fully with any open investigation so that the truth could be established, according to Kwaje. He challenged the government or any other organisation that had evidence contrary to the SPLM/A’s assertion of innocence to come forward with concrete evidence. The attack on the ICRC plane shuttle flight between Lokichoggio and the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, was halfway between Lokichoggio (the Kenyan base for most relief operations in southern Sudan) and a stage stop at Juba when the attack occurred.