South Sudan President Salva Kiir condemned Monday’s non-fatal shooting of the Bishop-elect of Rumbek as a “shameful act of intimidation.”
As Breitbart News reported, very early Monday two gunmen stormed the residence of Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare, forced him to sit, and proceeded to fire two gunshots into his lower legs.
“I call upon all South Sudanese to condemn the criminals who carried out this heinous crime in the strongest term possible,” Kiir stated late Monday.
The “reprehensible act of violence meted on Father Carlassare is unacceptable and must stop,” Kiir said, while also instructing the government of Lakes state to carry out an expeditious investigation that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of the guilty parties.
At least 24 people have reportedly been arrested in connection with the assault, including several police officers who were guarding the compound of the bishop-elect, on suspicion of failing to intervene to stop the attack.
Carlassare, who has worked as a missionary in South Sudan for 15 years, was appointed bishop of Rumbek by Pope Francis on March 8 and will be ordained to the episcopate on the feast of Pentecost, May 23.
While the motives for the shooting are still unclear, his fellow missionaries have speculated that it may be his association with a rival tribe that provoked the hostility of Carlassare’s assailants.
The population of the Diocese of Rumbek, which Carlassare now leads, belongs predominantly to the Dinka, South Sudan’s largest ethnic group. Prior to his present post, Carlassare worked closely with members of the country’s second-largest ethnic group, the Nuer.
The diocesan coordinator, a native of the Dinka tribe, had directed the diocese of Rumbek for nine years following the death of Bishop Cesare Mazzolari in 2011, and has now been replaced by Carlassare, an Italian.
One unnamed source claimed the attack was “a clear warning and intimidation” from someone who does not want Carlassare ordained as bishop of Rumbek.
“The Dinka are very vindictive and, for some of them, violence is often a way of life,” the source said. “I am very sorry for Father Christian but this is the reality he will have to face.”
Kiir said “we will stand by” Father Carlassare, whose condition is described as stable, insisting the action of a few criminals should not interfere with legitimate clerical authority.