A South Sudanese journalist often critical of government was shot dead at his home in the capital Juba, colleagues said Thursday, adding that he been recently threatened to stop writing.
Diing Chan Awuol, who wrote for news websites including Sudan Tribune and Gurtong under the pen-name Isaiah Abraham, was shot dead by unidentified men in his home in the early hours of Wednesday morning, police said.
"Police are investigating and they will be discovering what happened... they suspect an assassination as nothing has been stolen," said police spokesman James Monday Enoka.
One of this last articles urged Juba's government to improve relations with former civil war foes in Khartoum and stop any support for Sudanese rebels groups.
"Journalists said Chan had been threatened several times in the past and had received anonymous phone calls warning him to stop writing," the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said, calling for a "thorough investigation."
"His real name was recently discovered and as a friend, he told me that security agents are after him," said a friend of Awuol, who asked not to be named. "I advised him to abandon using 'Isaiah Abraham' and create a different pseudonym, but it was too late."
South Sudanese journalist Ayuen Panchuol said the killing was a way of saying "look, this is what will happen to you if don't shut up".
South Sudan, the world's newest nation after it split from Sudan in July 2011 after decades of war, is struggling to rebuild basic institutions.
Awuol, who was married and with five children, fought with the South Sudanese rebels who battled Khartoum from 1983-2005, now the official army of the fledgling nation. Most recently he worked at the national justice commission.
In a highly politicised and militarised society, journalists are often afraid to criticise government and warned not to cover certain sensitive subjects such as the army, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a report earlier this year.
With heavy-handed security, self-censorship and lack of legal protection, South Sudanese journalists commonly face "violence and intimidation" including detention and beatings, RSF added.