Eleven people, including several journalists, have been killed in a brutal attack on a convoy of vehicles near the town of Raga in Western Bahr el Ghazal state in South Sudan, officials said Monday.
Western Bahr el Ghazal Governor Rizik Zachariah Hassan called for flags to be flown at half-staff around the state for three days. He expressed his condolences to the families of the dead and vowed the state government will not stop working because of the attack.
Newly appointed Raga County Commissioner Maradom James was among the four people wounded in the attack on Sunday.
James' private secretary, Justin Abo Saleh, who was in the same car as the county commissioner, said the assault came out of the blue and was ferocious. He said the two vehicles came under a hail of bullets from both sides of the road.
“We were not expecting to survive," he said. "We talked to our driver that he should not stop and already these people started firing on us. So many guns, even Kalashnikovs and PKMs."
The car that Saleh and James were in was able to get away. After awhile, they returned to where the brutal assault had taken place and found a gruesome scene.
The victims had been shot and then hacked to pieces before their bodies were set alight, Saleh said. "It is my first time to see such thing like this,” he said.
4 of 11 victims unidentifiable
Yasir Mohammed Biajo, the medical director of Raga Civil Hospital, said that of the 11 victims, four were unidentifiable "because all the bodies were burnt."
Biajo said four people were wounded in the attack, including James. "All four are safe and stable right now," he said.
The attack bore the hallmarks of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), but no one has claimed responsibility for it yet. Western Bahr el Ghazal state has remained relatively peaceful since fighting erupted in other parts of South Sudan more than a year ago.