George Athor, the commander of one of the main rebel groups fighting the government of the new independent South Sudan, was killed in combat, as announced Tuesday in a statement, by the Vice-President Riek Machar.
According to the official version, the shooting is believed to have occurred Sunday afternoon in the county of Morobe, Central Equatoria State.
The body Athor, who since last year was at the helm of the Southern Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), was delivered to his family.
“We appeal – stated the vice-president – to all those who have rebelled against the government to lay down their weapons and join the peace process and development.”
Athor had taken up arms about a year before South Sudan’s independence from Khartoum (celebrated in July). Suspected to be supported both politically and militarily by Sudan, the Dinka ethnic group of the former general had recently announced an offensive in the region of Jonglei. As a condition of an agreement to avert a resumption of large-scale violence, just six years after the Civil War (1983-2005), he had asked for his men to be appointed to lead “two or three” ministries.