26 August 2014

South Sudan: UN Helicopter Crashes

Kenyan peacekeepers donate blood in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr El-Ghazal state back in June 2013.

A UN helicopter has crashed in South Sudan, with unconfirmed reports saying it was shot down. Three crew members have died and one survivor is being treated for injuries.

The UN said three people had died after a UN cargo helicopter crashed in South Sudan on Tuesday. One surviving crew member is being treated for injuries.

The Mi-8 cargo helicopter, which usually carries three to five crew members, crashed near the town of the Bentiu, which has seen much of the violence between President Kiir's government and Riek Machar's rebel fighters.

Contact was lost with the helicopter at approximately 3:19 p.m. local time (11:19 UTC), according to a statement from the United Nations mission in South Sudan.

Akol Ayom Wek, press secretary for the governor of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state, which is a region loyal to President Salva Kiir, said rebel commander Peter Gadet was responsible for shooting down the UN helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Wek added that Gadet had warned the UN last week that he would shoot down any UN planes that flew over his territory.

Ceasefire talks

The crash comes just a day after Kiir and Machar agreed to a fresh ceasefire at talks mediated by the regional group IGAD. Under the deal, the warring sides have six weeks to form a unity government.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced since the conflict began in December last year.

Kiir and Machar had previously agreed to form a unity government within 60 days in June, but the deadline was missed.

ksb/jr (Reuters, AFP)

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