SUDAN: Team arrives to probe deadly JIU attack in Yambio

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Southern Sudan's government has sent a team to Yambio in Western Equatoria State to investigate a weekend attack on a police station which left three senior officers dead, local officials said on 7 November.

"Tension has been high since the killings but we are slowly returning to normalcy after the team from Juba [capital of Southern Sudan] arrested a key suspect yesterday," Andrew Mbugo Elisa, a bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan, in Yambio, told IRIN on 7 November.

Fighting erupted when members of one of Southern Sudan's Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) raided a police station seeking to free one of their own who had been arrested over the death of a soldier.

Set up under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005 by the Khartoum government and the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, JIU's are made up of troops drawn from both the former rebel group and the North's regular army.

"Most of the fighting was between soldiers and policemen," Elisa said.

He said three policemen - a brigadier, a lieutenant-colonel and a major - were shot dead and that the JIU had looted a guesthouse in the town.

The JIU allegedly killed the officers after they refused to release the suspect, who was arrested after police discovered the corpse of a local official's bodyguard.

The governor of Western Equitoria, Samuel Abujohn, told IRIN on 6 November that he was awaiting the outcome of investigations being carried out by the team from Juba.

Local newspaper reports said Yambio residents were angered by the behaviour of the JIU, whose members are mostly Dinka, the ethnic group of Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Noting that the policeman killed were indigenous Equatorians, Elisa called on the SPLM government to pull the JIU out of Yambio, one of the locations specified for JIU deployment in the CPA.

"The slogan of the SPLM has always been to bring justice and we would like to ask that serious action is taken to fulfil this pledge of justice by moving swiftly on the JIU soldiers, disarming them, arresting the culprits and removing the unit from Yambio," Charles Kisanga, the chairman of Western Equatoria Azande Community World-Wide Organisation, said in a statement issued from the UK on 6 November.

Source: IRIN