South Sudanese Rebels Seize Three People From WFP Helicopter

Three South Sudanese citizens were seized by rebels after a World Food Programme-chartered helicopter in which they were traveling landed in contested territory, a local commissioner and insurgents said.

The three weren’t allowed back on the aircraft before it departed Jeich in Jonglei state’s Ayod county on Tuesday afternoon, WFP spokesman George Fominyen said by phone from the national capital, Juba.

Two members of a Christian organization and the chairman of South Sudan’s statistics bureau, Isaiah Chol Aruai, were detained in the incident, the commissioner of Jonglei’s Twic East county, Dau Akoi Jurkuch, said by phone from the area, where the passengers initially boarded the helicopter.

Rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the statistics agency head and two other “top government officials” were taken into “protective custody” for their own safety. Koang will discuss the issue with the leader of the armed opposition, Riek Machar, later on Wednesday, he said by phone from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

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