National, News

Allan killed in crossfire-gov’t report

By William Madouk


South Sudan government probe committee, on Thursday, released a report on findings into killing of British-American journalist Christopher Allen in the country.

Allen was shot on 26 August 2017 during military combat between SPLM-IO force and government forces at Kaya town, Central Equatoria State.

Daniel Charles Bilel, the chairperson of the investigation committee, said the late Allen was killed in a crossfire during a fierce confrontation between the government and the then-rebel group, the SPLA-IO.

“Christopher Allen was unintentionally killed as a result of crossfire during the attack on Kaya town on August 26, 2017,” said Bilel.

According to the seven-member committee, the corpse of late and other rebels were discovered during the damage assessment by government forces after SPLA-IO forces were repulsed.

The fact-finding team stated that late Allen was present when SPLA-IO was drawing a map to execute an attack in Kaya, Central Equatoria State.

In four videos played, journalist Allen was embedded with SPLA-IO forces three weeks before the attack on Kaya.

They also show evidence where Allen was wearing the red bandana that the then-rebel forces were using, as well as wearing no press jacket or any identification.

“At 5:30 AM, you can’t see anyone moving; you can see someone, but nobody can know whether he is black or white,” Bilel stated.

Based on the fact-finding team, Allen chose to put his life at risk when he decided to walk on the frontlines with the forces—a dangerous place where firearms and other weaponry are discharged.

“There is no evidence that establishes the identity of the person or persons that discharged firearms, causing the death of Christopher Allen,” he noted.

“There is no evidence that Christopher Allen was known to be a journalist by the person or persons that discharged the firearms that caused his death during combat,” he added.

The committee report clarified that the late Allen was also accompanied by two other foreign photojournalists who were identified in one of the videos as Mr. Goran Tomasevic and Siefried Modola, both freelancers with the Reuters News Agency.

The committee stated that UK journalist Pig Iron, in the podcast series, alleged that the SPLA-IO division commander made a request for international journalists to stay behind in ‘battle for Kaya’ due to high risk, but Allen insisted on accompanying the troops to Kaya.

The committee offered an apology for Allen’s death.

“We are sorry for the death of Christopher Allen in South Sudan because if he had to come to South Sudan officially, it would have been a different thing altogether.”

Allen, a UK-US freelance reporter, was shot dead on the frontline while covering clashes between factions of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, formerly known as SPLA and SPLA-IO, on August 26, 2017.

At the time of his death, Allen was covering a rebel offensive in the southern town of Kaya, situated on the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The report presentation was attended by several ambassadors and diplomatic officials assigned to South Sudan.

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