RAJA (26 Jan.)
At least four journalists working for state-run media in South Sudan’s Western Bahr al Ghazal State are among 11 people killed in an attack carried out by unidentified attackers yesterday morning.
Unknown gunmen opened fire on a two-car convoy carrying the new Commissioner of Raja County James Benjamin and journalists of Raja Radio and South Sudan TV/Radio Wau branch yesterday morning.
This is the second roadside ambush in the county in less than two weeks. In the previous attack, SPLA vehicles were targeted. The attack took place between Sepo and Magaya on the road to Raja, as the vehicles were returning from an official mission to the area.
Dr. Yasser Mohamed, head of the Raja County Hospital, told Radio Tamazuj this morning that 11 bodies were brought to the hospital yesterday, describing the bodies as burnt. He identified four of the victims as journalists, naming three of them and saying he did not know the name of the fourth, while another source named five slain journalists.
Radio Tamazuj is temporarily withholding the names of the dead pending further confirmation and to allow time for family notification.
The doctor also said said four wounded people were also brought for treatment including the commissioner who was lightly wounded.
Speaking to media in Wau yesterday, Governor Rizik Zakaria Hassan described the attack and confirmed the number of people killed was 11. He said that the convoy had traveled to the Sepo area to visit victims of an earlier attack and was returning to Raja.
Whilst traveling over a bridge the convoy came under fire. The commissioner and his bodyguard in the lead car were wounded but managed to drive off and continued driving for about 20 minutes until the car stopped, possibly due to damage caused by bullets.
The survivors including the commissioner then walked to the village of Magaya for help. A force of SPLA were dispatched from Raja and found both cars including the second car that had been traveling behind the commissioner’s vehicle.
Four burnt bodies of women were found inside the vehicles as well as the body of a child, according to the governor, while other bodies were found in the surroundings.
Meanwhile, the medical source denied claims that the bodies were mutilated by cutting but said the victims were killed by gunfire and then the bodies were burned. He also said there were only two women and a child and not four women killed.
Raja County shares a border with Sudan’s Darfur region and Central African Republic. Several armed groups have operated in the area and no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
File photo: SSTV and Radio premises in Wau, capital of Western Bahr al Ghazal