ARMY-Denies killing of Catechist in Lainya
By Chany Ninrew
The South Sudan People’s Defense Force has denied accusations of involvement in the recent killing of Catholic Catechist Isaac Lujang Samuel in Loka West of Lainya County.
This came after the Archbishop of Central Equatoria Internal Province told the media in Yei that Late Isaac Lujang was shot dead near the SSPDF base in the area.
Bishop Paul Pitia Yugusuk had allegedly accused the national army of having killed the man of God.
However, in an interview with Juba Monitor yesterday, acting army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Santo Domic denied the accusation, terming it as “misleading and baseless.”
“The SSPDF did not kill anybody around its Barack in Loka West as it was claimed by Archbishop of Lainya that Samuel Lujang was killed near our Barack, this is a deliberate negative campaign in order to tarnish the image of the army locally, regionally and internationally,” he said.
Instead Domic believed the Catechist was killed in a crossfire during a series of clashes between the National Salvation Front and Mundari cattle keepers in the area.
“Catechist Isaac Lujang might have been killed in a crossfire exchange between the rebels of Thomas Cirillo and the youth in the Mundari cattle camp,” he said.
Gen. Domic alleged that in the first place, NAS had repeatedly attacked Mundari cattle keepers in Lainya leaving the armed youth with no option but to resist the attackers.
“A big cattle camp under the leadership of chief Philip Mabior of the Mundari is being hosted by Paramount chief of Lainya named Ladies Lokiri, and then on the 10th, elements from the so called NAS came and attacked the cattle camp, because I think they ran out of logistics support, they killed two people and wounded five others that are being treated in Yei,” he narrated.
Domic also alleged that the attackers looted 15 cows, where they killed 10 of them and dried their meat in the bush as set-up.
According to him, chief Mabior established contact with the host Ladies and he was told that the attackers are not the youth of Lainya, but the NAS rebels.
This he said had forced the Mundari to defend themselves from the attackers.
“After the rebels mounted a second attack against the cattle keepers on the 12th, the youth were left with no option other than to resist the attackers and at the end of the day, they repulsed the attackers,” he said.
Meanwhile, the youth reportedly defeated the purported rebels up to their base at Kenyi Hills where they destroyed the tactical NAS headquarters and captured a number of military hardware that were handed over to the SSPDF at their base.
However, Santo Domic told Juba Monitor that the body of late Isaac was found together with a number of slain rebels near the Mundari cattle camp.
“Behind at the cattle camp, a number of rebels were found dead on the ground closer to the cattle camp and among them was the body of late Isaac Lujang,” he said contradicting the bishop’s statement that the body of Lujang was found near the SSPDF base.
The senior officer also said the national army who is responsible for protection of civilians did not intervene to stop the series of hostilities a few miles away from them.
“We are tired of these lame accusations, and this time around we did not intervene, but we are monitoring the situation closely,” said the army spokesperson.
Domic claimed that NAS are attacking civilians because they are faced with logistical challenges and they wanted to take advantage of the presence of cows of Mundari in the area.
There had been reports of clashes between the NAS and purported cattle keepers leading to the displacement of hundreds of civilians in Lainya County of Western Equatorial State.
However, Juba Monitor could not be able to independently verify the allegations from the sources cited.