Sudan: Jonglei Official Denies SPLA Shot Down UN Helicopter - Alleges UN Supports Rebels

Bor — The commissioner of Pibor, Joshua Konyi, claims that the helicopter shut down on Saturday in Jonglei was supporting rebels in the area and denied claims that it was downed by the South Sudan army (SPLA).

Spokesperson for the SPLA, Philip Aguer confirmed that the helicopter was shot down on Friday by the SPLA, claiming that the mistook it for an "enemy plane supplying [rebel leader] Yau Yau with weapons."

The UN has announced that the accident, in which all four crew died, "constituted a grave violation of the Status of Forces Agreement of August 8, 2011 and jeopardized the UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan] operations".

According to Konyi "the helicopter landed in the rebel area and five minutes after it took off, it crashed near our SPLA front line."

He also claimed that he contacted UNMISS authorities in Pibor county and Likuangole payam [district], where the incident allegedly took place, "but they said they had no message about the presence of an UNMISS helicopter in the area," this led them to believe that the aircraft belonged to Yau Yau.

Aguer on Friday stated that UNMISS did not acknowledge the presence of the aircraft, which was on a reconnaissance mission in the area, prior to the incident.

Konyi said that they have not yet visited the site of the incident as it is near the battlefield.

The Jonglei state governor, Kuol Manyang declined to confirm or deny to Sudan Tribune whether or not the SPLA shot down the UN helicopter.

UN deputy spokesperson Edurado del Buey said the SPLA informed UNMISS "that kit has shot down the helicopter in the Likuangole area in Jonglei state."

Aguer repeated on South Sudan TV on Saturday, "our forces on the ground in Likuangole contacted office of the United Nations Mission in Pibor to inquire whether they have information about the movement of any aircraft to the area but they were told 'no'."

He also claimed they also contacted UN offices in Bor and Juba but they were given the same information; that they were not aware of any movement, "so our forces on the ground, considering that the government of Sudan had in the past used white planes to supply ammunitions and other military supports to rebel in Jonglei, concluded that the government of Sudan was supplying the rebel of David Yau Yau."

Aguer said that proof of a such actions by Khartoum had been found, when a plane ferrying ammunition and weapons from Sudan to the late late rebel, George Athor was captured in Paloch in 2011.

However, the minister of information and broadcasting service who also serves as the official government spokesperson, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the government regrets the shooting and has sent condolences to the government of Russian; the headquarters of the UN in New York; and UNMISS office in South Sudan.

He said his government is willing to cooperate with the UN teams to investigate circumstance which led to the shooting down of the aircraft.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2012 Sudan Tribune. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.