South Sudan evacuation aircraft fired on, US troops hurt

By The Citizen

Four US service personnel on an evacuation mission have been wounded after their aircraft were shot at in South Sudan, the US military says.

The three CV-22 Ospreys were attacked as they approached Bor, which is occupied by forces loyal to the former Vice-President Riek Machar, it added.

South Sudan has been in turmoil since President Salva Kiir accused Mr Machar a week ago of attempting a coup.

Mr Machar told the BBC the rebels were under his control.

He was in control of large parts of the country, he said, and troops loyal to him had also seized control of Unity, a state on the border with Sudan which produces much of the country’s oil.

He added that he was prepared to negotiate with the government if politicians arrested earlier this week were released.

At least 500 people have been killed since the fighting began.

Ugandan involvement
The US military said the Ospreys, aircraft which can fly both like helicopters and like planes, were involved in the evacuation of US citizens from Bor.

A statement said all three aircraft were damaged by small arms fire by unknown forces as they approached the town.

The aircraft returned to Uganda’s Entebbe airport, from where the wounded service personnel were transferred onto a US Air Force C-17 transport aircraft and taken on to Nairobi, Kenya, it added.

All four were treated and are in a stable condition, the statement said.

The BBC’s former Sudan correspondent James Copnall, who spoke to Mr Machar, says his forces were likely to have fired on the aircraft thinking they were Ugandan.

Uganda is one of a number of other countries trying to evacuate their citizens from South Sudan.

It has sent troops to take part in the operation. They will also try to secure the capital Juba, just 75km (50 miles) from the border, reports say. BBC