By Chol Makol Riak
Police in Jonglei state’s capital Bor have arrested at least 5 suspects in connection with last month’s assassination attempt of bishops inside a church.
The incident happened after a group of armed assailants who were believed to be supporters of the defrocked archbishop Ruben Akurdid entered the Langbaar B church premises and opened fire in two rooms of the church, injuring several people including Bishop Zachariah Manyok Biar of the Wangule Diocese, who was shot on the face.
Bor town police Chief, Brigadier General Chol Achiek Deng said officers have arrested five suspects who are cooperating with authorities ahead of being arraigned in court.
“The arrest was delayed all this time because the people and the police were up and down focusing on the insecurity. On 16th March, the attorney issued the arrest warrant for the suspects and we forwarded it to the Joint Operation Police for implementation. Five people have been arrested. They are put in custody for investigations,” Deng said.
General Deng said police are still searching for seven other suspects. He said the suspects will be charged with armed robbery and attempted murder.
Jok Majak Aduot, the Secretary of the Episcopal Church’s Langbaar B church said he is relieved to see police arrest the suspected perpetrators in the attack.
“We were looking for these people, we wanted them arrested so that they could explain to the court why they did come and shoot. They took our belongings including phones and they destroyed the church car. We need this case forward without interference either from anyone from the community or any politician,” Aduot said.
Meanwhile, David Khor Majok, deputy coordinator for information and media in Bor diocese dismissed the allegations saying that they don’t know who are those criminals arrested.
“As a church we don’t have guns and we can’t get guns and attack church or any bishop. Bishop Ruben Akurdid is not an army general he is a Bishop and he is for peace and harmony in the church, so we don’t know those criminals,” Khor said.
Bishop Zachariah Manyok of the Wangule Diocese, Gabriel Thuch Agoth of the Kongor Diocese and Archbishop Moses Anur were all sleeping in separate rooms on the grounds of the Langbaar B Church when they were sprayed with bullets in the middle of the night.
The office of Ruben Akur denied involvement in the attack.
Justin Badi Arama, the Primate of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan had condemned the incident and blamed the attack on some unnamed senior officials from Jonglei state.
The standoff between Bishop Akurdid and ECS primate Justin Badi Arama began in August 2020 when Badi Arama fired Akurdid from his post as archbishop of Jonglei Internal Province and the Bishop of Bor Diocese after he established three additional dioceses of Makuac, Anyidi and Kolnyang within the Jonglei internal province without consulting other church officials.
Arama appointed Bishop Moses Anur to replace Akurdid who was expected to retire, but Akurdid filed a case in Juba’s high court challenging his dismissal. The court dismissed the case and referred it to a church tribunal for settlement.