Ethiopian troops have crossed into South Sudan on a mission to rescue the children abducted last Friday from Gambella village allegedly by the South Sudanese armed militia, local media has reported.
Over 100 children were abducted from Ethiopia by alleged South Sudanese bandits who attacked the village, which lies on the Ethiopia-South Sudan border. During the attack, over 200 people were killed, over 2,000 cattle were stolen and much property was damaged.
The Ethiopian government has blamed armed militia from South Sudan’s tribe Murle for the heinous attack, promising to follow the bandits to their last hideout.
Ethiopia’s minister for communications Getachew Reda announced on Wednesday that Ethiopian troops have already identified the location of the abducted children and will soon be rescuing them. “The army has been conducting reconnaissance missions in South Sudan and they have a clear idea of where the children are,” the minister said.
The minister further added that they have sought permission from South Sudanese government to carry out the rescue mission.
Troops Rumored to Have Suspected Hideout Surrounded
On Wednesday of this week, an Ethiopian radio station Fana reported that Ethiopian troops have already encircled the area where the abducted children are believed to be detained. The radio further claimed operations to rescue the children were underway.
Earlier in the week, the minister had claimed that Ethiopian troops had crossed into South Sudan and managed to kill 60 of the bandits believed to have staged the deadly Friday raid. But in his public address on Wednesday, Reda didn’t confirm the radio station’s report.
International Community Intervenes
The European Union is reported to have contacted the South Sudanese government on Wednesday also, requesting that relevant authorities ensure immediate return of the abducted children to their families.
The EU is also reported to have requested serious action against those who were behind the deadly attack. France has already expressed its distress, describing the Friday attack on innocent civilians as “unacceptable.”
Reports from Juba, South Sudan, say the South Sudanese government has promised to launch a joint military assault on militia forces who staged the deadly attack in Gambella village, Ethiopia.
Addressing the press on Wednesday, South Sudanese Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter Bashir revealed that preparations were underway to free the abducted children. He also promised that South Sudanese Chief of Staff Paul Malong will be travelling to Ethiopia on Friday to coordinate the rescue mission.