Gunmen 'showed little mercy': Cork priest tells of horror at murder of colleague in South Sudan

Gunmen 'showed little mercy': Cork priest tells of horror at murder of colleague in South Sudan
Fr Victor-Luke Odhiambo, who was killed last Thursday in South Sudan. Photo: Jesuit Refugee Service

A Cork priest serving on mission in South Sudan has described in chilling detail how a Jesuit friend and colleague was murdered by gunmen in country last week.

Kenyan native, Fr Victor-Luke Odhiambo, who had studied in Dublin, was shot dead in his compound last Thursday.

"Fr Luke was killed by unknown assailants in the St Peter Claver Jesuit community at 2am”, stated the Irish Jesuit Missions.

“He was Principal of the Mazzolari Teacher’s College and a former headmaster in Jesuit schools.”

“He had strong links to Ireland, having studied philosophy in Milltown Park, Dublin, from 1980-1982.”

Fr Luke’s compound is situated about 600km from Maban, where Cork priest Fr Tony O’Riordan is Director of the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS).

The gunmen “showed little mercy”, said O’Riordan, speaking from Maban.

“Fr Luke was unwinding after a long day” when he was 'shot dead'," added O’Riordan, a native of Kilmichael.

“The motive behind the killing is unknown nor are the killers known,” he said.

South Sudan is in the grip of a five-year bloody civil war and famine.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled the conflict live in camps in Maban, the most northern tip of the country.

”We are all very saddened by this violent and senseless death of a friend and dedicated member of our team in South Sudan,” he said.

We are a small team of Jesuits here in South Sudan, so it affects us all...but most especially those of his community who were in the house and heard the shots that killed him.

O’Riordan said Fr Luke had been “very committed” to his missionary work.

O’Riordan’s compound in Maban was attacked last August by a violent mob.

O’Riordan continues to “pray for peace”.

He said he hoped Luke’s killing “can be one of the last violent and senseless deaths in a country where thousands have died in five years of war.”

The Irish Jesuit Missions stated Fr Luke “gave his life and blood in the service of education and peace”.

Despite the bloodshed in Cueibet, Maban is presently “calm”, O’Riordan said.

“I am safe and well,” he added.

The attack on his compound forced the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) to suspend all but critical activities to safeguard its staff.

A violent mob including gunmen stormed the area and burned down a language learning centre.

A programme of rebuilding the centre is continuing.

At the time, around 500 humanitarian workers, were evacuated, however, Fr O’Riordan has remained to continue to help provide education and steer humanitarian aid towards the refugee camps.

More on this topic

Cameron Blair's 'boyish smile and joy of life' recalled by friends in moving tributesCameron Blair's 'boyish smile and joy of life' recalled by friends in moving tributes

Tributes paid to Cork student following tragic killingTributes paid to Cork student following tragic killing

Planning permission granted for RDS-style indoor event centre in Cork cityPlanning permission granted for RDS-style indoor event centre in Cork city

Cork student whose family were saved from deportation hopes to play cricket for IrelandCork student whose family were saved from deportation hopes to play cricket for Ireland


More in this Section

Bloody Sunday Soldier F hearing set to be held in Belfast amid security fearsBloody Sunday Soldier F hearing set to be held in Belfast amid security fears

Teachers to strike on February 4Teachers to strike on February 4

Two people shot in BallymunTwo people shot in Ballymun

Tributes paid to Cork student following tragic killingTributes paid to Cork student following tragic killing


Lifestyle

So I’ve booked my holidays. And before you ask, yes, I’m basing it around food and wine. I’ll report back in July, but I thought readers might be interested in my plan should you be thinking about a similar holiday.Wines to pick up on a trip to France

Esther N McCarthy is on a roll for the new year with sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes.Wish List: Sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes

They have absolutely nothing really to do with Jerusalem or indeed with any type of artichoke, so what exactly are these curious little tubers?Currabinny Cooks: Exploring the versatility of Jerusalem artichokes

Arlene Harris talks to three women who have stayed on good terms with their ex.The ex-factor: Three women on staying friends with their former partner

More From The Irish Examiner