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POCHALLA - 18 Sep 2023

Former Pochalla SSPDF commander shot dead

The late Col. Okony Okwom Othow was gunned down in Pocvhalla on Sunday. (Courtesy photo)
The late Col. Okony Okwom Othow was gunned down in Pocvhalla on Sunday. (Courtesy photo)

The former commander of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) in Pochalla County in the Pibor Administrative Area was killed in an attack at his residence in the county headquarters, Pochalla town on Sunday, the police and the local officials said.

Lt. Col. Amati Ochan, the Pochalla County inspector of police, told Radio Tamazuj that the former SSPDF commander, Col. Okony Okwom Othow, was killed by elements from the SSPDF.

“The situation is now tense in Pochalla. There were clashes involving former commander Okony Okwom and a group of soldiers under the current SSPDF commander Col. Acwil Ayi on Sunday at 8 a.m.,” Amati said. “A group of SSPDF officers were searching for one of their colleagues who escaped from their prison last (Saturday) evening and they suspected that he was hiding at Okony’s residence but he was never there because we went to that area to investigate before the incident. The escapee is called Second Lieutenant Makoor. So, this is how and why the fighting started and Col. Okony was killed.”   

“Two other soldiers were injured and a woman was also shot in the stomach and as we speak, residents have deserted the southern part of the town,” Col. Ochan added.

Owety Olung, the acting Pochalla County Commissioner, also confirmed the attack and said that residents have since deserted the town over fears that violence may escalate.

“Civilians have run away from the town because those soldiers came and attacked ex-commander Okony while at his residence in a civilian area,” he explained. “Before this incident, the area commander Col. Acwil called me and we discussed the issue of a fugitive who escaped from SSPDF detention. So, it was unfortunate that soldiers attacked Okony because the escapee is said to be loyal to him.”

A Pochalla resident who preferred anonymity called for the intervention of the national government, saying tension remains high with SSPDF soldiers arbitrarily arresting civilians.

Efforts to reach SSPDF Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang for comment were futile as he did not answer his known telephone.