Bishop Carlassare in hospital: "I forgive my attackers";
the first arrests take place
Rumbek (Agenzia Fides) - "The attack on Bishop-elect Carlassare greatly affected the South Sudanese community, both Catholics and non-Catholics. We expect those responsible to be captured. Despite the violence we have experienced in these years, this is a striking fact. Never had anyone been hit at such level in the Catholic hierarchy". This is how Sister Paola Balatti, a Combonian who works in South Sudan, expressed in an interview with Agenzia Fides the bitterness and fears that are being experienced in South Sudan the day after the attack on the Bishop-elect of the diocese of Rumbek, Christian Carlassare. The Bishop was transported to hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, and is recovering from gunshot wounds inflicted on his legs by two armed men who attacked him last night.
While the Minister of Information and Communication, William Kocji Kerjok, condemned the attack, the police have arrested 24 people suspected of having to do with the attack in the capital of the Lakes State, Rumbek. "In reality we do not know who it was - says the Comboni nun -. Local authorities will investigate the case. This is the second time that a Catholic cleric has been attacked in the Lakes State. In 2018, a Jesuit was shot dead at night in Cueibet County".
In the first statements, Bishop Carlassare said he forgives his attackers and asked for prayers for South Sudan: "I know that people are suffering more than me right now for what happened. Rumbek deserves a lot better than this. So I forgive with all my heart whoever did this to me". Recalling the ambush and the encounter with the attackers, Carlassare said: "I tried to talk to them, but they cocked the gun and shot me in the leg. Then they fled. They were not here to steal or kill me because they would have killed me easily". But why did they hit Mgr. Christian Carlassare? The attackers, explains a confrere of the Bishop who asks to remain anonymous, "did not steal anything and this means that the purpose of the visit was not robbery. We believe they wanted to scare him into leaving Rumbek. We are convinced that there are groups that do not want a foreign Bishop, but a Dinka, the majority ethnic group in the area". And he concludes: "We do not know if there are members of the Church who are complicit in this action or if there are people linked to local power. What is certain is that the high level of tribalism present in the southern counties of South Sudan sees a foreign bishop as a threat".