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Homechevron_rightWorldchevron_rightUN fury after S Sudan...

UN fury after S Sudan shoots down peacekeeper helicopter

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UN fury after S Sudan shoots down peacekeeper helicopter
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Juba: South Sudan's army shot down a UN helicopter, killing all four Russian crew on board and bringing fierce United Nations condemnation on the world's newest state.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon said the helicopter was a "clearly marked" UN aircraft and demanded that those responsible be brought to account.

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) troops fired anti-aircraft guns at the Russian MI-8 believing it was a rebel helicopter carrying weapons to anti-government forces, said a South Sudan military spokesman.

The helicopter was hit while on a "reconnaissance flight" over Jonglei state in eastern South Sudan, the deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said in New York.

Jonglei has been stricken by ethnic strife and rebellion since South Sudan became independent in July last year with major help from the United Nations and western states. Relations have soured in recent months however.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) at first only signalled that the helicopter had crashed in the Likuangole district of Jonglei.

"Initial reports indicated the UN helicopter crashed and burned. The mission immediately launched a search and recovery mission. It has confirmed the death of all four crew members," del Buey said.

"In subsequent communications between the mission and the South Sudanese armed forces, the SPLA told the mission that it had shot down the helicopter," he added.

Ban "strongly condemns the shooting down today of a clearly marked UN helicopter by the Sudan People's Liberation Army," said a statement released by the UN in which he expressed condolences to Russia over the deaths of the crew.

"The secretary general calls on the government of South Sudan to immediately carry out an investigation and bring to account those responsible for this act," it added.

"In light also of previous incidents, the secretary general demands that the government of South Sudan urgently puts in place reinforced measures within the SPLA to ensure that no such event may reoccur in the future."

South Sudan military spokesman Philip Aguer said the UN chopper was hit by "friendly fire" and that an investigation was underway.

He said the UN mission had been asked whether it had an aircraft in the Likuangole region and UNMISS had replied there were none.

The spokesman alleged that the chopper was seen landing at a base belonging to rebel leader David Yau Yau.

AFP

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