Reporters group calls for investigation after US journalist killed in South Sudan

Hentet fra The Telegraph | Orginalkilde: Agence France-Presse | Av Roland Oliphant

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for an investigation amid claims that an  American reporter killed in South Sudan was deliberately targeted by government troops.

Christopher Allen, 26, was killed in a firefight between government forces and rebels near the Ugandan border on Saturday. Allen, a freelancer who had written for numerous outlets including the Telegraph, was embedded with a unit of the SPLA-IO  rebel group when he died.

South Sudanese military officials earlier said Allen’s body was one of 16 recovered after government troops fought off a rebel attack in the town of Kaya and that he had died of a bullet wound to the head.

His body was handed over to the US embassy in Juba on Tuesday.

The warring sides have given conflicting accounts of his death and whether he was wearing a press vest when he died.

Michael Makuei, the information minister of South Sudan, said on Wednesday that Allen’s death was “not targeted” and that the government regretted it, but added that “anybody on that side is usually a target.»

Mr Makuei claimed Allen had entered South Sudan illegally after being denied a visa «because of his hostile reports.»

«If Allen entered South Sudan illegally then he is a criminal,» said Mr Makuei. «Had he not died we would have apprehended him and taken him to the court.»

Mr Makuei also said there was «nothing that could indicate he was a freelance journalist» and said that if Allen was reporting «on the activities of the rebels then definitely he was a rebel.»

Earlier a rebel spokesman said Mr Allen was wearing a clearly marked press vest and had been shot at after he began to take pictures.

«Allen was targeted. The person who shot saw him very clearly,» Colonel Paul Lam Gabriel told the AFP.

He said Allen had been embedded with the rebels for two weeks before the firefight on Saturday.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement it was “deeply troubled” by the suggestion Allen was not deserving of civilian status and called for an independent investigation into the circumstances of his death.

Allen’s parents said in a statement to the AP that they are devastated and their son «passionately sought the truth from every perspective.»

Mr Allen, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, began his career as a freelancer during the Ukraine crisis of 2014.

He was one of the first reporters on the scene after the shoot down of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 in July that year, on which he reported for the Telegraph.

More than one million people have fled into neighbouring Uganda since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, creating one of the world’s biggest refugee crises.