Raeth, a reporter for the private Radio Tamazuj, and his friend were shot to death by unknown gunmen in the town of Akobo, according to news reports.
The two were gunned down after leaving a local NGO that had Internet access where Raeth filed a story on clashes between the Murle and Lou-Nuer tribes, according to Hildebrand Bijleveld, director of Radio Tamazuj. For decades, the Murle and Lou-Nuer clans have fought over cattle and grazing lands.
Radio Tamazuj cited a local government commissioner as saying Raeth was killed in the crossfire between two warring groups. News reports citing relatives and local officials said the journalist could have been killed along with his friend in a “revenge attack” by one of the groups. According to Radio Tamazuj, which cited a local “peace ambassador,” warring clans in the region often kill civilians unrelated to the fight as revenge against the murder of their own members.
Raeth had reported on the local conflict in Akobo and peacebuilding efforts by local communities in neighboring Gambella, Ethiopia, Bijleveld said. Neighboring ethnic groups in South Sudan and Ethiopia have often clashed, including over control of scarce natural resources, according to U.N. reports.
Raeth had worked previously a freelancer for the U.N.-led Radio Miraya and Gurtong news website, and had received a Certificate of Appreciation from UNICEF for his coverage of efforts to identify abducted children and reunite them with their tribes, according to news reports.
Local authorities said they were investigating the murder.