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EASTERN EQUATORIA - 14 May 2024

Fatal shooting during hunting trip in Torit raises tensions

An 18-year-old man, known only as Oboi, tragically lost his life in Hiyala Payam, Torit County, South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State, on Sunday. The incident occurred during a hunting trip when youths from Hiyala encountered youths from the neighboring Haforiere village, resulting in fatal gunfire.

Local authorities intervened to prevent further escalation, highlighting underlying tensions between the communities. Efforts to bring the perpetrator to justice are underway, while community leaders stress the importance of peaceful coexistence.

Galileo Ohide, the Paramount Chief of Hiyala Payam in Torit County, told Radio Tamazuj that the incident took place on Sunday afternoon. He stated that the perpetrator is still at large, and efforts are underway to apprehend him and bring him to justice.

Ohide explained, “The clash occurred in the bush when the youths of Haforiere were grazing their cattle, and some youths from Hiyala were hunting. The Hiyala youths injured an animal called ‘Oluk,’ and while tracking the wounded animal’s trail, they encountered the Haforiere youths tending to their livestock. Mistaking the hunters for criminals, the Haforiere youths opened fire, resulting in the death of one person on the spot. This morning, government officials visited the area and summoned the Hiyala youths to gather information at the kraals. However, it was discovered that they were not involved in any wrongdoing.”

Jacob Atari Albano, Commissioner of Torit County, has confirmed the incident and stated that security forces have been dispatched to investigate the matter. He added that two suspects who were accompanying the perpetrator have voluntarily surrendered to the police and are currently in custody, while the main suspect remains at large.

Albano recounted, “The incident occurred yesterday around 2 PM. Some youths from Hiyala went to the bush for hunting and shot two animals. One animal was brought back to the village, and one youth returned to retrieve the remaining animal. At the same time, some youths from Haforiere were patrolling the area. Mistakenly, the youths from Haforiere shot a youth from Hiyala, suspecting him to be a criminal, only to realize he was actually a fellow villager. It was an accidental occurrence. I have deployed forces, including the police, to investigate the issue. The suspect is still at large, and efforts to locate him are ongoing. However, two youths who were with the suspect have surrendered themselves to the authorities.”

Oriaja James, Secretary-General of the Eastern Equatoria State Youth Union, condemned the act and cautioned youths against taking the law into their own hands. He urged youths to promote peace and unity by disseminating messages of peace to ensure lasting peace among communities.

“I strongly condemn the incident. It’s unacceptable to take matters into your own hands without respecting the law. Whether the actions in Haforiere were perceived as positive or negative, I unequivocally condemn them. Taking the law into your own hands is not justified. There are proper procedures in place that must be followed. I urge the youth out there to prioritize unity and refrain from violence. They need to understand that as future leaders, we must uphold the value of non-violence. No individual is superior to another,” Oriaja clarified.