August 30, 2017 (JUBA) – The American freelance journalist shot dead in war-torn South Sudan over the weekend “illegally” entered the country, army officials said Tuesday.
- Christopher Allen (The War Zone Freelance Project)
South Sudan army spokesperson, Lul Ruai Koang said Christopher Allen, 26 allegedly entered into the country with rebels forces and warned journalists against associating with armed elements.
“Anybody who comes attacking us with hostile forces will meet his fate,” Koang told Reuters.
Allen, a freelance scribe, was killed Saturday when South Sudan army clashed with rebels at Kaya, a town bordering Uganda.
South Sudan government officials said Tuesday that the American scribe killed during military clashes was a “white rebel”.
They denied that the victim of the war was a freelance journalist killed in fighting.
Riak Gok Majok, a member of the national dialogue denied reports that the deceased was embedded in the units of the rebel forces.
“We were happy that with political change in the USA [United States of America], we thought a neutral approach in resolving South Sudan conflict would be initiated. I will never believe even at a gun point that Mr. Christopher and his colleagues are mere journalists, no, they are not. It is high time we sit around the table to genuinely seek a practical solution to our problems,” Majok told Sudan Tribune.
He added, “The like of Christopher will continue to fuel this senseless war to make a better living. The USA is still the genuine friend of our country”.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was deeply troubled by reports that South Sudanese authorities denied that the U.S. freelance journalist who was killed covering conflict in the war-torn nation on 26 August, was deserving of civilian status.
CPJ, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, called for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Allen’s death urging authorities to respect all journalists’ status as civilians.
South Sudan is one of the harshest places in the world for journalists, according to press freedom groups.Allen is the 10th journalist and the first international journalist to be killed in South Sudan since 2012, according to the United Nations.