“When the two men shot the bishop-elect, one of them dropped down his phone and the bishop fell on it. It is this phone that the security used to find the people connected,” the source said.
Among those arrested after the shooting are members of the clergy and “other prominent lay personalities in the Diocese of Rumbek,” the source disclosed, adding that 12 people were linked to the “physical evidence of the cell phone found where the bishop-elect was shot.”
South Sudan, an east-central African country of 11 million people, gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian body in the country, which borders Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.
The arrests follow a directive from South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to “carry out an expeditious investigation” into the incident.
In an April 26 statement, Kiir said that he “learned with dismay the unfortunate incident that involved the Rt Rev. Christian Carlassare, Bishop-elect of Rumbek diocese, who was shot last night by the unidentified gunmen.”
“The reprehensible act of violence meted on him is unacceptable and it must stop. I call upon all South Sudanese to condemn the criminals who carried out this heinous crime in the strongest terms possible.”
He continued: “If those who carried out this shameful act were doing so to intimidate the Church, they are sadly mistaken. The Catholic faithful Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare was chosen to lead and authorities in Lakes State will stand by him and will not allow action of few criminals to affect the plans of ecclesiastical authority.”
Poth Madit, deputy governor of Lakes State, confirmed that the authorities had made arrests in an interview with ACI Africa.
“Investigations are underway and we have link information to find suspects. Some arrests have been made and more are being made, hopefully within the next 24 hours. Something substantive would have been done by the government regarding the shooting of the bishop,” he said April 26.
Madit described the attack on the bishop-elect an “isolated incident” perpetrated by a group of criminals whose network, he said, has already been established.
In an April 26 statement, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission condemned the attack.
It said: “[From] the event leading to this unfortunate development and other relevant information, it has become clear that the bishop-elect was sole target of the attack.”
(Story cotinues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“The commission hereby condemns this barbaric act in strongest terms possible and urges both the state and national Government to institute an investigation committee to conduct thorough investigation with the aim of holding the culprits accountable.”
“While the government conducts its investigation, the commission urges the faithful to remain calm as we shall closely monitor the investigation and equally do our own fact-finding and keep the general public informed of any latest developments.”
Carlassare’s episcopal ordination was scheduled to take place on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.
The Italian-born Comboni Missionary had served in South Sudan’s Malakal diocese since he arrived in the country in 2005.
He traveled to Rumbek diocese April 15, following a spiritual retreat in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
As he left Rumbek for further treatment in Kenya, the bishop-elect appealed for prayers and asked for forgiveness for the perpetrators.