South Sudan’s military said it has released nine war prisoners on Friday in Wau state after nearly a year in captivity, a move it said was aimed at bolstering a “reconciliation” process.
Army spokesman says the released prisoners were loyal to former vice president Riek Machar.
“The 5th infantry division in Wau State was instructed by the army chief of defense forces to release the detainees as part of reconciliation initiative,” Brigadier General Lul Ruai Kuang told our The East African Tribune reporter in Juba.
Wau State, about 300 miles north of capital Juba, has been the ground of fierce battles between rebel factions and forces loyal to president Salva Kiir.
Lul said the military sees the release as a way to build the spirit of peace and reduce fighting in South Sudan and bring to an end the four-year conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and made 4 millions homeless.
South Sudan opposition and rights groups say the government has detained thousand of South Sudanese without trial for political reasons, torturing and killing thousands of them. President Kiir and his government deny that.
An estimated quarter of South Sudan’s 12 million people have been uprooted by the conflict, with neighboring Uganda hosting a million of those displaced.