Kenyan pilots released in South Sudan


South Sudanese rebels released two Kenyan pilots after receiving compensation for the family of a civilian killed when their plane crashed last month, a rebel spokesman said.

The plane came down in Akobo, in the Greater Upper Nile region in early January and rebels asked for compensation for the family of a woman who was killed as well as for others who lost livestock.

Lam Paul Gabriel, deputy spokesman of the rebel SPLA-IO told Reuters $107,700 was paid.
“I have confirmed the pilots have been released by the local leaders of Akobo after they received a full compensation from the Kenya delegates,” Lam said.
“That is not a ransom. It is just a compensation requested not by the SPLA-IO but by families of the deceased and the owners of the properties. All we did as SPLM-IO is just to facilitate the exchange and provide security for the pilots.”

A South Sudan army spokesman declined to comment. A Kenyan foreign ministry spokesman said they would issue a statement.

Oil-rich South Sudan has been in the throes of civil war since 2013 months after President Salva Kiir fired his then deputy Riek Machar.

The conflict displaced a third of the population, shut down most of the oil production and strangled the economy.

Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 after fierce fighting broke out in Juba, is now being held in South Africa to stop him fomenting trouble, diplomatic and political sources say.