South Sudan Rebels Accused of Shooting Down UN Helicopter

Juba, August 27 (QNA) – The South Sudanese government on Wednesday accused rebel forces of shooting down a United Nations helicopter which crashed a day earlier, killing three crew members.

“The helicopter was shot down by forces of rebel leader Riek Machar,” army spokesman Philip Aguer told dpa, adding that the area where the helicopter crashed near Bentiu was controlled by regional rebel commander Peter Gadet.

Aguer pointed to a separate incident several days earlier in which Gadet’s forces seized a helicopter carrying monitors of a previous ceasefire, which proved unsuccessful. One of the monitors died of a heart attack while the others were released.

” This clearly shows the lack commitment by the rebels” to a new ceasefire signed on Monday, Aguer said.

Speaking to dpa, rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied responsibility for the crash.

“The UN has not accused us, and it is mind-boggling that the government does so,” he said, adding that the rebels gave their “full support” to a UN investigation into the causes of the crash.

Aguer said he could not confirm the nationalities of the three victims, who news reports have claimed are Russian nationals. A fourth crew member survived the crash with injuries.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is trying to help bring peace to the country, where an eight-month-old conflict between Machar and President Salva Kiir has killed thousands of people and displaced more than a million.(QNA)

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