A Ugandan bus driver has been hospitalised in the South Sudan capital, Juba, with a bullet wound to his thigh after he was shot by armed gunmen in South Sudan when they ambushed three Kampala-bound buses.
Uganda police spokesman Patrick Jimmy Okema said Takuba Yusuf; the driver of an Eco bus was shot in the thigh as he attempted to flee from the attackers, Uganda’s Observer newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weaponry and possibly supporters of South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar, laid the ambush at a junction in Jebelen, about 120km from South Sudan capital, Juba on Monday morning.
After storming the bus the gunmen identified themselves as enemies of the Dinka people fighting to take over the government in South Sudan, the Observer reported.
Sudanese government forces have been fighting a prolonged civil war against armed supporters of Machar’s Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) since a civil war broke out in December 2013.
A lull in the fighting followed 2015’s peace agreement between Kiir and Machar, who belongs to the Nuer tribe, and the latter’s return to Juba in April.
However, fighting resumed again in mid-July when a shoot-out took place between government forces and Machar’s Nuer supporters, at a roadside outside Juba.
After the passengers had identified themselves as Ugandans, and their passports were confiscated, the gunmen warned the bus driver not to transport Dinkas, further threatening to finish Ugandans off after accusing them of siding with the Dinkas and Kiir.
The attackers then ordered all passengers off the buses, after robbing them of mobile phones, money and other personal belongings, before making them carry all their luggage and cargo to a nearby valley near Juba.
During the attack one of the buses was burnt completely, but the armed men failed to set the other two buses alight.
The frightened travellers were then forced to walk 2km to the outskirts of Juba where they were told to remain calm and reassured that they wouldn’t be killed. After returning their passports they were finally released.
Government soldiers (SPLA) subsequently arrived and evacuated the passengers on light vehicles and to other buses.
The attack comes barely a month after another Eco bus was attacked in Loa, a locality near Pageri in Magwi County in which three people died.
There have been several attacks on buses in South Sudan since the fresh fighting broke out in July.