By Manyang Mayom
February 21, 2010 (RUMBEK) - The Gok Dinka paramount chief Jok Dau Kachuol was killed on Saturday evening at 4 p.m. at his court premises at Cueibet County of Lakes state. He is said to have been slain in crossfire between Gok Dinka and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
A Rumbek hospital official told Sudan Tribune that 14 people are admitted wounded with bullet wounds and there are no soldiers confirmed in beds. Meanwhile, SPLA official spokesman Maj-Gen Kuol Deim Kuol affirmed that six soldiers including two officers are killed and seven are wounded and the number might increase because fighting is still going on.
The violence began when members of the Rek Dinka ethnic group attacked a camp occupied by Gok Dinka cattle herders in the remote Bahr Gel area of south Sudan’s Lakes State on Saturday, southern army spokesman Kuol Diem Kuol told Reuters. However, he also told Sudan Tribune that the cattle raiding between Cueibet residents and Rek Dinka of Warrap State has been going on since last Thursday.
A Gok Dinka group, angry after the Saturday cattle raid, attempted to break into gun depots in Cueibet to get back their weapons which had been seized earlier by the authority. Guards at the gun stores clashed with them to protect the guns, Kuol explained. "So in the crossfire five civilians and two chiefs were killed," he claimed to Reuters.
Kuol said that the SPLA troops were backing up police to prevent the break-in into the gun store. He said nobody has yet been confirmed responsible for the killing of the paramount chief, which he said would be investigated.
Kuol further said that when word spread that the paramount chief and one civilian had died, people in Cueibet began to attack the SPLA troops stationed in the county. Another bloody clash on Sunday morning was reported involving Gok and SPLA fighters at a different SPLA base. The town of Cueibet was evacuated and the Gok raiders were repulsed.
Some SPLA troops are stationed in Cueibet County to participate in keeping order and carrying out a South Sudanese presidential disarmament order.
Spokesman Kuol said that, South Sudan Director of SPLA Military Intelligence, General John Lat Zachariah, who hails from Cueibet County and ex-governor of Lakes state, Ajongo Mawut, the SPLA director of operation, plus one member from Chief of Staff from the SPLA will visit Cueibet County to restore calm to the civilian population.
The head of the SPLA division in Lakes state Maj-Gen Akuei Adual Akuei Deng and Lt-Gen Daniel Awet Akot are already on the ground in Cueibet imposing calm.
Deim noted that “this paramount chief was an SPLA officer who went to Bilpam for training, Dr John Garang send him back home to feed his community and the army during the struggle — nobody now accepted to be responsible for is death, the investigation will dig out the truth — it is not known who killed the chief".