The SPLA-IO faction allied to former first vice president Riek Machar said dozens of government forces led by Cap. Lam Yuol Jok defected and joined its forces in Raja area in Western Bahr al Ghazal on Friday.

In a statement seen by Radio Tamazuj, the armed opposition deputy spokesperson, Lt. Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, claimed 16 government soldiers abandoned their position and joined the SPLA-IO faction led by Riek Machar.

He claimed that the soldiers defected after allegedly witnessing atrocities that include gang rape, killings and torture in Raja.” We respect their patriotic spirit to work with us and bring down the corrupt Juba regime,” he said.

Separately, Lam disputed reports that Col. Yien Mathew, a prominent opposition member defected from their side and joined the newly formed rebel group led by Thomas Cirillo.

He claimed that Yien who joined Cirillo’s rebel group was a member of Lam Akol’s National Democratic Movement (NDM) and not a member of the SPLM-IO faction led by former First Vice President, Riek Machar.

“Late last year he [Yien] became a member of NDM Liberation Council. Yien Mathew was a beneficiary of Dr. Lam Akol’s NDM and did not rejoin the SPLA-IO completely, even secretly,” said Gabriel.

SOUTH SUDAN: 16 government soldiers join rebels in Raja: Official

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