Dar es Salaam says it is keenly following up on reports that a pilot said to be a Tanzanian national is being detained by South Sudanese rebels.
Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation ministry’s spokesperson Ms Mindi Kasiga, told The EastAfrican that the government was looking into the issue and would release a statement soon.
“The government is aware of the report and is working to get to the bottom of the issue,” she said, in reference to the kidnapping of the pilot, identified as Mohammed Nassor Sauh, who was flying a Cessna aircraft leased by the South Sudan Air Aviation on November 1.
A rebel official, Brigadier General John Tap Puot, was quoted by the Sudan Tribune as saying they were investigating to determine the nationality of the pilot it accused of collaborating with the Juba government.
He said they would not release the pilot claiming that he had violated the territorial rules by flying into an SPLM-IO controlled area.
“We would not have any problem with the pilot if he came alone. But because he was hired and used to transport a government official it means there is something behind his coming here,” Gen Puot told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
The rebel official claimed he had been contacted by South Sudan’s First Vice-President, Taban Deng Gai, seeking that they release the pilot.
He, however, maintained that the pilot would only be freed on condition that James Gatdet Dak, the rebel leader Riek Machar’s spokesman, whose is currently detained by the government is released.
South Sudan descended into war, two years after seceding from Sudan, after heavy fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his then deputy Dr Machar broke out in December 2013.