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United Kingdom - 3 Feb 2023

Kajo Keji murders horrify Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Justin Portal Welby. (Courtesy photo)
Archbishop Justin Portal Welby. (Courtesy photo)

Justin Portal Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on Thursday tweeted that he was horrified by the killing of innocent civilians by armed pastoralists in Kajo Keji County in Central Equatoria State.

On Thursday, local authorities and the clergy reported that 21 civilians were reportedly dragged out of their homes and gunned down in Lire Payam in Central Equatoria State’s Kajo Keji County by armed pastoralists suspected to be from Bor in Jonglei State.

“I am horrified that at least 19 people were killed in Kajo Keji on the eve of our Pilgrimage of Peace. It is a story too often heard across South Sudan,” Archbishop Portal wrote. “I again appeal for a different way: for South Sudan to come together for a just peace.”

“My prayers are with the families affected and all South Sudan, as I begin my travel there tonight to join my brothers Pope Francis and Moderator Lain, and to be with the South Sudanese people,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Yugusuk, the Archbishop of Central Equatoria Internal Province and the caretaker Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kajo Keji, also condemned the killings and urged the government to intervene.

“On behalf of all the bishops, the clergy, and the laity, I would like to express my deep sadness over the barbaric killing of 20 civilians in Lire Payam in Kajo Keji County,” he said. “This incident happened on Thursday Morning and we lost 2 women and 18 men several other people were injured. The killings were committed by cattle herders from Bor (Jonglei State) and we as the church held a peace and reconciliation conference just the other day in Kajo Keji which was attended by delegations from both Central Equatoria and Jonglei states.”

“We want to condemn this barbaric killing of our innocent civilians and I call upon the government and President Salva Kiir to intervene and protect our people and to bring the perpetrators to book,” he added.

Archbishop Yugusuk further called on humanitarian agencies to immediately intervene and support the over 3,000 internally displaced people who he said are sheltering in the Mere area of Kajo Keji town.