A U.S. military aircraft running an evacuation flight out of South Sudan was fired upon on Saturday, leaving four service members injured, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command said.
The aircraft was fired while flying out of Bor, which NPR’s Gregory Warner reports is not under government control.
The AP reports that once the V-22 Osprey received fire, it headed to Kampala, Uganda, and the wounded servicemen were then flown to Nairobi, Kenya for treatment.
“South Sudan President Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, said this week that an attempted coup triggered the violence now pulsing through South Sudan. He blamed the former vice president, Machar, an ethnic Nuer. But officials have since said a fight between Dinka and Nuer members of the presidential guard triggered the initial violence late Sunday night. Machar’s ouster from the country’s No. 2 political position earlier this year had stoked ethnic tensions.
“The violence has killed hundreds and has world leaders worried that a full-blown civil war could ignite in South Sudan. The south fought a decades-long war with Sudan before a 2005 peace deal resulted in a 2011 referendum that saw South Sudan break away from the north, taking most of the region’s oil wealth with it.”
There are conflicting reports as to how many aircraft were involved in the incident. The AP reports two helicopters were fired upon. Africa Command makes mention of only one. There is no word on the condition of the service members.
ABC News reports that the U.S. has been running evacuation missions out of the country since Monday, when two C-130 aircraft pulled 120 Americans and western diplomats from Juba.
“The planes also carried in 45 members of the U.S. military’s East Africa Response Force (EARF) to stay behind in Juba to protect the U.S. embassy and the American diplomats who remained behind,” ABC reports.
We’ll update this post once we have a bit more clarity on the situation.