An armed group overran a police post outside the Eastern Equatoria state capital Torit on Thursday without firing a shot.
Multiple residents said in a series of interviews on Thursday that a group of armed men entered Idolu police post around 2:00 pm and declared control of the security of the area. Idolu is located some 35 kilometers east of Torit.
They said the armed men drove a line of military trucks through the police post without any resistance.
An armed man identifying himself as Col. Mario Bertino who said he is the spokesperson for the “South Sudan Armed Forces” said the group claims responsibility for the attack and has been joined by police and local youth in the area.
“Idolu is under our control,” Bertino said. “The police officers who were at the station have declared themselves and they are now part of our forces. They actually said they were looking for people who are ready to liberate the people from oppression and the dictatorship to which the country has been thrown.”
Bertino said their forces were advancing on Torit.
The state government has made no official statement on the incident, but a senior security official in Torit confirmed about 50 heavily-armed soldiers and police officers defected last week and are believed to be behind the attack on the police station.
“Things are not clear,” the official said. “There is confusion in Torit town now. You cannot understand what is happening. We only received directives from Juba through the office of the governor and SPLA command in Torit to be on high alert.”