March 13, 2014 (JUBA) – A top military officer from South Sudan army (SPLA) was inadvertently assassinated on Wednesday in Juba, relatives and police authorities said on Thursday.
- South Sudan SPLA soldiers stand in a vehicle in Juba December 20, 2013 (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
A Sudan Tribune reporter who visited the scene said Major General Kuac Deng Kuac, who was commanding SPLA forces around Jonglei’s Pibor area and originally hailed from Northern Bahr el Ghazal (NBeG), was gunned down along Juba University and Tumbura crossing point in South Sudan’s capital.
It remains unclear what caused the shooting that subsequently led to his death, although relatives and government officials claimed he “died in the hands of Central Equatoria Patrol Police force”.
Police officers from the Central Equatoria were on patrol when the shooting occurred and have been accused of involvement in the incident.
More than 10 police officers who were on duty at the time were initially arrested, but some have already been released after preliminary investigations found that they were not in any way involved, although at least two police officers remain in custody.
“They assassinated him by a gunshot at his rear head and the bullet came out in the forehead, injuring his left hand too, Daniel Akol Diing, NBeG’s chief whip, said on Wednesday, describing Kuac as “a hero and freedom fighter”.
Multiple eyewitnesses said the general was last seen at around 8.20pm (local time) on Wednesday at a place in Mahatah Yei, one of the residential areas in Juba between its university and city centre.
He was seen chatting near a tea making place with former NBeG health minister Tong Akeen and several others.
Kuac held several positions, including military police commander of the SPLA forces in Juba, before serving as commissioner for Aweil East from 2010 to 2012 when he was replaced.
Both the SPLA and police spokespersons have confirmed the shooting, saying only that a joint investigation with the full participation of the deceased’s relatives would be conducted to establish the circumstances of the incident.
Kuac is the third top military officer from Northern Bahr el Ghazal to be gunned down following the eruption of violence less than three months ago between rebel forces and those loyal to president Salva Kiir.
His body will be airlifted from Juba to his home state for burial to his home state after the arrival of some of his immediate family members from Uganda.