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South Sudanese journalist killed by armed men, fighting continues to spread

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South Sudanese journalist killed by armed men, fighting continues to spread

Photo: Getty Images / Justin Lynch

A South Sudanese journalist John Gatluak was shot and killed by armed men during clashes in the capital of the country, Juba, on July 11. Those who knew him said that his ethnicity made him a target of the attack.

The journalist worked for Internews, a U.S.-funded organization that assists radio stations in South Sudan. According to Jennifer Cobb, a spokeswoman for Internews, Gatluak was killed at the compound of the upscale Terrain Hotel, where he had been taken for his safety after he was briefly arrested on July 8.

The Rev. John Chuol, a representative of Gatluak’s family, said that John Gatluak became a target because he is a member of the Nuer tribe, the same ethnicity as opposition leader Riek Machar. The journalist had distinctive Nuer facial scars on his forehead, making his ethnicity easily identifiable.

Some of the heaviest clashes of the last week in Juba took place near the Terrain Hotel as government troops attempted to oust the armed opposition from one of their bases. The fighting has left hundreds dead in the capital. According to aid workers, bodies remained in the streets. On July 13, officials from the UN said that more 272 people were killed during the week, including 33 civilians, reported by the government.

South Sudanese, who try to leave the country by road and reach neighboring Uganda, reported about attacks, killings and robberies by armed men. They said that many cars had been shot at or burned, and government forces had erected roadblocks to demand money from those who were fleeing. According to the UN, already 42,000 South Sudanese civilians have fled their homes.

Others have taken shelter in churches, UN bases and aid workers’ compounds in Juba. However, government soldiers are blocking aid workers from moving to areas where civilians need assistance. People do not have food, and they are starving. As a result, they start to rob to survive.

Italy’s foreign ministry said that 30 Italians were evacuated from Juba by an air force aircraft on July 13. Germany’s foreign ministry said that its air force evacuated German, European and other foreign citizens from the city. The US Embassy said that it evacuated Americans on July 14. In addition, the USA has deployed additional 40 troops to boost the security of American embassy in South Sudan.

In the meantime, fighting continues to spread to other parts of South Sudan. According to Shantal Persaud, the spokeswoman for the UN mission in South Sudan, small-arms fire hit Leer town in Unity state on July 13. The town is Machar’s birthplace.

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