UN Helicopter Crash in South Sudan: United Nations’ Helicopter Crashes in War Zone in South Sudan / Africa News

UN Helicopter

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has said that one of its helicopters has mysteriously crashed in Unity State-the epicenter of the conflict in South Sudan.

The helicopter was said to have crashed about 10 km south of Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State, which lies north of the country. Three crew members died while one survived and UN authorities say they have launched a formal investigation into the crash.

Thousands of people have been killed this year in bitter fighting between South Sudan’s army and rebel forces.

South Sudan has been in turmoil since Fighting broke out in December last year between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar.

Peace talks in Ethiopia have made little significant progress as two previous cease fire agreed by both sides have collapsed with the government and the rebels accusing each other of violating the agreement.

The helicopter is said to belong to Russian airline UTair and its owners say the copter was shot down around the flashpoint of the conflict.

“According to preliminary information, the helicopter was shot down with surface-to-air fire; one crew member – the second pilot – is alive and has been transported to a hospital. Other crew members – commander, flight engineer and flight attendant – were killed”, UTair said in a statement.

The Associated Press News Agency also quoted an unnamed UN official as saying that the Mi-8 helicopter was shot down although no formal investigations have confirmed it.

A spokesman for the Russian embassy in South Sudan, Artur Safukov, told Russia’s State television, Russia 24 that all four on board were Russian citizens who were carrying relief items to refugees in the northern part of the country.

It is unclear whether it was the rebels or government troop’s missile that hit the copter from the suspicion but Rebels spokesman, Lul Kuang was quoted by reporters as saying that government troops were responsible for downing the copter. He said the area the copter was shot down is controlled by government troops.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict with Sudan which left many people dead.

Both President Kiir and Mr. Machar were part of the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) which fought for independence from Sudan but relation between the two worsen in less than 2 years of independence from Sudan.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News

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