April 2, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese police major from Western Bahr el Ghazal state was assassinated by unidentified assailants, relatives and government officials said on Wednesday.
James Martin Ibra was shot dead in Tambura county in Western Equatoria state on Monday afternoon (local time). Eyewitnesses claimed he was shot dead at the airport, located east of Tambura town.
“He was on the motorbike coming to the market when gunmen emerged by the road and opened fire on him, killing him on spot. The person escaped but hurt. It [was] like these people who killed him had prior information about him before taking the action,” an eyewitness from Tambura told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Tambura is the home county to Western Equatoria’s governor, colonel Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro, who last month held a consultative meeting which brought together the three leaders from the Equatoria region. They all vowed not to allow their region to be used as grounds for any rebellion.
“For how long South Sudanese will continue to fight?” said Bakosoro, urging people to learn from the history of the region’s two devastating civil wars, which ended in 2005 when a peace led to independence from Sudan in 2011.
In mid-December last year a major split in the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and the ruling party (SPLM) plunged the young nation into a political, security and humanitarian crisis. Over one million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations and thousands are believed to have been killed.
“We have to forge a new direction. War is not a solution to any differences. Western Equatoria would not support any tribal conflict, but work on national business,” said Bakosoro, calling on South Sudanese to open a new page to make healing possible.
In Wau, relatives and acquaintances of the late police officer told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the body arrived in Wau town, the capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal, on Tuesday evening at around 5:45pm, where it spent the night at the state civil hospital, before being taken for burial at his home village outside the town.
Arkangelo Anyaar Anyaar, the mayor of Wau town municipality, said he had no further details on the circumstances surrounding the death.
“I do not have any idea of this incident. I just learned that he is dead. The circumstances which lead to his death are unclear,” he said.
It remains unclear whether the deceased is one of the officers whom the state government recently claimed to have defected.
Multiple government officials say the deceased had been absent from work for a number of days before his body was found, claiming that none of his colleagues knew where he had gone.
“It has taken me something like three weeks without being able to see or hear about him. I just thought he travelled somewhere on mission or leave with the knowledge of the authorities. I knew nothing about other details. Yes, there were people I heard sometimes back at the security meeting asking the whereabouts of James Martin where one of the colleagues replied that his whereabouts is not known,” a police officer who did not want to be identified told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.