South Sudan: Rebels Claim to Have Killed Ugandan Helicopter Gunship Gunner

Juba — A Ugandan helicopter gunship gunner has been killed by the South Sudanese rebels and damaged the attacker helicopter in the South Sudanese central state of Lakes, according to the rebels spokesperson.

The fatal incidence occurred on Friday at 1pm when three Ugandan gunships allegedly carried out bombings on defecting soldiers that were moving towards Unity state to join the amassing rebel forces in the area.

The military spokesperson for the rebels, Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the gunner was shot dead and fell off the helicopter after a serious damage was inflicted on one of the three helicopter gunships that carried out the bombings.

"Our air defence artillery opened fire on the three warplanes seriously wounding 1 and killed the gunner," Koang said.

The collected passport and ID of the dead gunner identified him as Jona Abuduku Alfred, a Ugandan national with military ID No. 21883, passport No. 11180 and a Lance Corporal in military rank. His hometown is Mbale in Uganda and joined the Ugandan Air Force in 1997, the documents obtained show.

The South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson Phillip Aguer could not easily be reached despite repeated attempts by Sudan Tribune, while his Ugandan counterpart Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda on Saturday said the rebel claims was a "hoax".

"No Ugandan gunship has been downed by Riek Machar rebels. Details of a soldier allegedly killed are a hoax. Ignore them as lies", Lt. Col. Ankunda said by phone.

The South Sudanese rebels have been accusing Uganda army of interfering in the internal conflict of South Sudan and called for the withdrawal of the foreign forces.

"Why doe the UN continue to create a bad and false impression of Uganda's role in peace efforts in the region? Very frustrating," the UPDF spokesperson tweeted on 4 February.

An agreement on cessation of hostilities signed on 23 January in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, also called for the withdrawal of UPDF. However the rebels say there is no sign of UPDF withdrawal from the country.

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