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Two South Sudanese Catholic Nuns among Four Killed in Road Ambush en Route to Juba

Sr. Mary Daniel Abut (left) and Sr. Regina Roba (right) killed in a road ambush along the Juba-Nimule highway that links South Sudan and Uganda on 16 August 2021. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Two South Sudanese Catholic Nuns are among five people killed in a road ambush along the Juba-Nimule highway that links South Sudan and Uganda on Monday, August 16.

The Secretary General of South Sudan’s Juba Archdiocese confirmed the passing on of Sr. Mary Daniel Abut in a statement issued before the death Sr. Regina Roba was confirmed.

“The Catholic Archdiocese of Juba through the Secretary General, Rev. Fr. Samuel Abe, with deep sorrow announces to the Catholic Faithful Religious leaders and all denominations, government and other institutions, family and friends and to the general public about the sudden passing on of Sr. Mary (Abut) of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart,” the Clergy of the South Sudanese only Archdiocese says.

In a statement obtained by ACI Africa, Sr. Christine John Amaa, a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, provides details about the two Sisters and the circumstances of their death saying they were “killed in cold blood.”

“I would like to inform you that our former Superior General Sr. Mary Daniel Abut who served our Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from 2006-2018, and Sr. Regina Roba who was twice in the General Council were killed in cold blood today as they were returning (to Juba) from Centenary Celebrations of Assumption of Our Lady Parish,” Sr. Amaa says in her August 16 email message.

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Nine Catholic Sisters were in the bus that came under attack between Aru junction and Kubi along Juba-Numule Road.

Following the ambush by unknown gunmen, Sr. Amaa says, the nine Sisters “tried to flee from the scene and hid in various bushes around.”

“The gunmen went (straight) to where Sr. Mary Daniel was lying down and shot her,” Sr. Amaa says in her email message, adding that it took some time before Sr. Regina who had also been shot was traced.

She says, “It was until the army was called, they then found Sr. Regina already dead in the bush.”

The 100-year-old Assumption of Our Lady Loa Parish of South Sudan’s Torit Diocese, the venue of the Sunday, August 15 Centenary Celebrations, the member of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus says, “is where our Congregation was founded.”

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“For over 30 years, the place was devastated due to war and all our convent buildings were destroyed,” Sr. Amaa further says and adds that members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had first returned to the Catholic Parish “during the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus this year in June.”

The two late Catholic Nuns, Sr. Amaa reiterates, “had returned to the parish to join the Christians for the Centenary celebrations of yesterday, being our founding place.”

“These were the Sisters who trained me and I grew fond of them as my Directors,” Sr. Amaa recounts in her August 16 email message.

The late Sr. Mary Daniel was the Head Teacher of the Usra Tuna school in Juba Archdiocese. Sr. Regina was serving as a Tutor and Administrator at the Catholic Health Training Institute (CHTI) in South Sudan’s Wau Diocese.

“We serve in hard-to-reach areas, this is the first time the rebels aim at killing our Sisters,” Sr. Amaa says about members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with their Mother House in Juba Archdiocese.

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She adds, in reference to August 16 road ambush that resulted in the death of at least four people, “It has shocked us and our tears can only be wiped by the Creator who has taken them. May God rest their souls in eternal rest under the veil of Mother Mary.”

Two male persons who were on the bus were among the dead, Eye Radio has reported, and added, “A boda-boda rider also died after he was knocked down by a speeding truck - fleeing from the attack. This brings the total number of the deceased to 5.”

“The security forces; the Tiger division, the National Security, the police and the military intelligence are currently combing the area to evict these criminals from that area.” Eye Radio says in another report, adding that since 2016, “there have been several deadly attacks on travelers” along the Juba-Nimule Road.

“Early this year, the army said it deployed more soldiers along the Juba-Nimule Road,” Eye Radio has reported, adding that while the South Sudanese security agency “reinstated security escort for passenger vehicles, “it is believed most of the motorists prefer to drive on their own.”

In his August 16 statement issued before the death of Sr. Regina was confirmed, the Secretary General of Juba Archdiocese says in reference to the late Sr.  Mary Daniel, “Arrangement for the funeral and burial of the sister will soon be communicated.”

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“God gives, God takes. May her humble soul rest in peace,” Fr. Abe implores in his statement.