Jimmy Lemi Milla (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk), minister for cooperatives and rural development in the government of Southern Sudan, has been shot dead alongside his bodyguard inside his ministry building in Juba.
The southern army said they had been shot dead in an apparent personal dispute.
Witnessed reported that both men were killed after an attacker broke into the minister’s parked car in Juba, stole his bodyguard’s gun, and shot Mr Lemi several times in his office.
“He shot the minister with two shots to the forehead, two in the shoulders and one in the arm. He died immediately,” said Thomas Wani Kondo, an MP with the south’s ruling SPLM movement.
The killer then shot Lemi’s bodyguard, 62, before being wrestled to the ground and taken into custody.
Arguing the killing was not politically motivated, officials said the attacker was the minister’s brother-in-law, and that he wanted to claim two months’ unpaid wages, officials said.
Two days before this incident, the results of a referendum on south Sudan’s secession from the north were announced. They were followed by wild celebrations in the city on the White Nile, which will become the capital of the world’s newest country on July 9, when the state of Southern Sudan is created.
“This is such a shock to the people here, coming so soon after our peaceful referendum,” Richard Lukodu, a civil servant, said.
“This is something for which I cannot express my sadness. This is the result of one angry man – and people should not think that this is reflective of all of south Sudan.”
Officials assure that the situation remains under control.
“But it is a very sad day for the people of south Sudan,” a spokesman for the southern army said.
Even though violence in the south remains persistent, the decades-long civil war between the south and the north of Sudan ended with a peace deal in 2005.
3,000 people are estimated to have been killed in ethnic battles and cattle raids in 2009 alone, but attacks had diminished before January’s secession referendum.