World

December 24, 2013

Three U.S. military aircraft hit in S. Sudan, 4 wounded

Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that Dec. 21 became a battle ground between the country’s military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before.

The U.S. military aircraft were about to land in Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation’s worst violence over the last week, when they were hit. The military said the four wounded troops were in stable condition.

The U.S. military said three CV-22 Ospreys – the kind of aircraft that can fly like a helicopter and plane – were “participating in a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor.” A South Sudan official said violence against civilians there has resulted in bodies “sprinkled all over town.”

“After receiving fire from the ground while approaching the site, the aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission,” the statement said. “The injured troops are being treated for their wounds.” It was not known how many U.S. civilians are in Bor.

After the aircraft took incoming fire, they turned around and flew to Entebbe, Uganda. From there the service members were flown to Nairobi, Kenya aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 for medical treatment, the statement said.

An official in the region who insisted on anonymity to share information not made public said the Americans did not tell the top commander in Bor – Gen. Peter Gadet, who defected from the South Sudan military this week – that they were coming in, which may have led to the attack. The U.S. statements said the gunfire was from unknown forces.

South Sudan’s military spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, said that government troops are not in control of Bor, so the attack on the U.S. aircraft has to be blamed on renegade soldiers.

“Bor is under the control of the forces of Riek Machar,” Aguer said, referring to the ousted vice president.

The U.S. Embassy in Juba said it has evacuated at least 450 Americans and other foreign nationals from Juba this week and had hoped to begin evacuations from Bor. The U.S. Ospreys were hit one day after small arms fire downed a U.N. helicopter in the same state.

The U.N. Dec. 20 sent four helicopters to extract 40 U.N. peacekeepers from a base in Yuai, also in Jonglei, U.N. information officer Joe Contreras said. One helicopter was fired upon and executed an emergency landing in Upper Nile state, he said. No casualties occurred during the incident.

South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said that South Sudanese ground troops, backed by the country’s air force, are fighting rebels in Bor, an effort to retake the state capital they lost earlier this week.

“There is fighting going on in Bor town, yes, because since morning they have continued to attack the civilian population,” Lueth said, talking about renegade troops. “They have gone as far as not respecting the U.N. compound.”

He said fighting started early Dec. 21 after reports came in that rebels there were shooting indiscriminately at civilians.

“The bodies are sprinkled all over the town,” he said. No death toll could be estimated, he said.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, said this week that an attempted coup triggered the violence now pulsing through South Sudan. He blamed the former vice president, Machar, an ethnic Nuer. But officials have since said a fight between Dinka and Nuer members of the presidential guard triggered the initial violence late Dec. 22 . Machar’s ouster from the country’s No. 2 political position earlier this year had stoked ethnic tensions.

The violence has killed hundreds and has world leaders worried that a full-blown civil war could ignite in South Sudan. The south fought a decades-long war with Sudan before a 2005 peace deal resulted in a 2011 referendum that saw South Sudan break away from the north, taking most of the region’s oil wealth with it.

Lueth described Machar as “the rebel leader,” saying the forces that control Bor believe they are fighting on his behalf. Machar’s whereabouts remain unknown, but he has said in recent interviews that he is in hiding somewhere in South Sudan.

An International Crisis Group expert on South Sudan told The Associated Press Dec. 20 that rebels have taken control of at least some of South Sudan’s oil fields, an issue that could bring Sudan into the conflict. South Sudan’s oil flows north through Sudan’s pipelines, providing Khartoum with much needed income.

The U.N. Security Council Dec. 20 said the weeklong violence could affect neighboring countries and the entire region.

Speaking in Manila Dec. 22, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged South Sudan’s leaders “to do everything in their power to ensure that their followers hear the message loud and clear that continued violence, ethnic and otherwise, is completely unacceptable and pose a dangerous threat to the future of their country.”

Kenya announced it was sending in Kenyan troops to evacuate 1,600 Kenyans stranded in South Sudan, many of them in Bor.

Earlier last week, President Barack Obama dispatched American troops to help protect the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Juba. The embassy organized at least five emergency evacuation flights to help Americans leave the country. Other countries like Britain, Germany and Italy also helped citizens evacuate.

Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, was keeping an eye on the tense situation in South Sudan. He said continued violence and militancy in South Sudan may cost the world’s newest country the support of the U.S. and other nations.

“This conflict can only be resolved peacefully through negotiations,” the White House said in a statement. “Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community.”

Secretary of State John Kerry called Kiir to urge the South Sudanese leader to avoid ethnic conflict, preserve the welfare of those fleeing the conflict and protect U.S. citizens there. Kerry was sending a special envoy to the region and told Kiir that South Sudan’s challenges require leadership and political dialogue, the State Department said.

Mediators from East Africa continued to try to help negotiate peace. Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said that they have held “productive” talks with Kiir and that consultations were continuing. Kiir has agreed to “unconditional dialogue” to try to stop the violence.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2015

Business: Rafale, Mistral on agenda for Le Drian in Malaysia, India – French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Malaysia Aug. 30, with talks expected to cover the Rafale fighter jet and Mistral helicopter carrier, website La Tribune reported. U.S. Army to choose new landing craft next year – In line with the Pentagon’s...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2015

Boeing plans to lay off some Southern California workers Boeing has announced that it plans to lay off employees at its Southern California-based satellite division. The Los Angeles Times reports that the aerospace giant said Aug. 25 that it will lay off as many as several hundred employees at the El Segundo factory. Boeing says...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 
LM-MUOS

U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin ready to launch MUOS-4 Aug. 31

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the fourth Mobile User Objective System secure communications satellite, MUOS-4, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>