Worshippers shot dead in South Sudan

2011-12-28 07:48

Juba - South Sudanese soldiers accidentally shot dead four Christmas Eve worshippers and wounded 15, the young nation's military spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"This is terrible," Philip Aguer told AFP. "SPLA has never done such a thing before in our history."

The tragedy occurred on December 24 in Pigi County, Jonglei state.

Soldiers of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) opened fire when they found one of their colleagues with nine bullets in his body after an earlier shooting near the church, Aguer said.

"Unfortunately they started shooting randomly," and hit worshippers fleeing the church at the sound of the gunfire, he added.

The second lieutenant in charge of the platoon has been arrested and an investigation ordered, the spokesperson said.

SPLA was the rebel force that battled Khartoum until a 2005 peace agreement ended two decades of civil war, ahead of South Sudan's independence in July this year.

Aguer said tensions had been raised since December 23 when a landmine killed an SPLA soldier who was helping to protect the burial ceremony for George Athor, who fought for the southern rebels and reached the rank of general before turning renegade last year.

The South Sudanese vice president announced last week that Athor, of Pigi County, had been killed in a battle with government forces.

Read more on:    south sudan  |  east africa

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