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Kidnapped Kenyan pilots released by South Sudan rebels after compensation paid

The two were abducted last month after their plane crashed in the Upper Nile state claiming one life.

The pilots, Captain Frank Njoroge and co-pilot Kennedy Shamalla were abducted last month after their plane crashed in the rebel-controlled territory Upper Nile state claiming one life.

Lam Paul Gabriel, deputy spokesman of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) told Reuters that $107,700 had been paid.

“I have just confirmed now that pilots have been released by the local leaders of Akobo after they received a full compensation from the Kenya delegates,” Lam said.

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“That is not a ransom. It is just a compensation requested not by the SPLA-IO but by the 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 has 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.

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