South Sudanese government has admitted killing an “armed criminal” on 2 July at Kator residential area in the national capital, Juba, at 11:20am.
Although the date and timing of the killing as well as the location match with the incident in which suspected Military Intelligence (MI) personnel killed Lt. Colonel George Gismala of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA-IO), the report did not mention the identity of the deceased.
Earlier, South Sudan police service denied army’s responsibility for the killing of the officer.
However, in the confidential report of government seen by Sudan Tribune on Monday and entitled, ‘Aba Lif (Kator-Tombura Road) Incident’, it acknowledged that the “criminal” was killed by Military Intelligence (MI) personnel in self-defence after allegedly attacking their patrol team.
The report also narrated that the incident occurred while President Salva Kiir and First Vice President, Riek Machar, were also at the location in Kator, same area, where they both attended a wedding ceremony of a daughter of the President.
“On 2nd July 2016, at 1120 hrs, as MI patrol team were heading to St. Theresa Church to support the presidential protection Unit, at the church (the President and the First VP were attending the wedding of president’s daughter), an armed criminal jumped in front of the patrol car at Aba Lif CORNER (Tumbara-Kator road) and started shooting at them,” said the report.
“He was shooting while bouncing from one point to another. The patrol team immediately responded by firing back at him as a result he was shot and fell down wounded. He was found alive and carrying a numberless AKM rifle and a pistol number 01692816238. He was rushed to the Military Hospital where he passed away on the way. The body of the criminal is currently at the Military Hospital mortuary awaiting identification,” further narrated the report.
Despite the fact that the report did not mention by name the claimed criminal, the date, timing and location suggested that it was narrating the circumstances under which Lt. Colonel George Gismala died.
Earlier reports published in the media suggested that the SPLA-IO’s officer was shot dead at Kator residential area at 11:20am on 2 July, and his body was taken to a military base in Juba.
However, eye witnesses earlier told Sudan Tribune that the officer was shot while found seated at a tea place in what appeared to be a targeted killing. Other sources said he first engaged in argument with the MI personnel loyal to President Kiir over the lack of the implementation of the security arrangements in the peace agreement before he was shot.
Security forces loyal to President Kiir were immediately deployed in the capital to impose security measures and prevent violent reaction.
SPLA-IO DEPLOYED TROOPS
Eye witnesses and officials of the SPLA-IO also confirmed that their troops on 2 July had also deployed west of the government’s headquarters in response to the situation.
Eye witnesses said they witnessed the deployment of the SPLA-IO troops lining up from Jebel Kujur, the residence of the First Vice President, Machar, walking through Gudele highway up to the roundabout of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is only about 400 meters from the government’s headquarters or ministries in the town center.
Media official of the First Vice President, Machar, confirmed the deployment, but said it was a normal security measure.
“Yes, SPLA-IO forces from the protection unit of the First Vice President were also deployed in the town on 2 July following the incident. It was a normal and necessary precautionary measure. The deployment was also important in reducing tension and building confidence,” Dak said.
He also said it was necessary because the SPLM-IO leadership was in the town center for the wedding of the President’s daughter when the incident occurred.
Dak condemned what he said was a “cold blood murder” of one of their officers.