February 8, 2014 (JUBA) – A Ugandan helicopter gunship gunner has been killed by the South Sudanese rebels and damaged the attacker helicopter in the South Sudanese central state of Lakes, according to the rebels spokesperson.
- A photograph of a C130 used by the UPDF to fly back 150 Ugandans from South Sudan (new vision photo)
The fatal incidence occurred on Friday at 1pm when three Ugandan gunships allegedly carried out bombings on defecting soldiers that were moving towards Unity state to join the amassing rebel forces in the area.
The military spokesperson for the rebels, Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the gunner was shot dead and fell off the helicopter after a serious damage was inflicted on one of the three helicopter gunships that carried out the bombings.
“Our air defence artillery opened fire on the three warplanes seriously wounding 1 and killed the gunner,” Koang said.
The collected passport and ID of the dead gunner identified him as Jona Abuduku Alfred, a Ugandan national with military ID No. 21883, passport No. 11180 and a Lance Corporal in military rank. His hometown is Mbale in Uganda and joined the Ugandan Air Force in 1997, the documents obtained show.
Although the spokesperson for South Sudan army (SPLA) Phillip Aguer could not easily be reached despite repeated attempts, his Ugandan counterpart Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda described the rebel claims as a "hoax".
"No Ugandan gunship has been downed by Riek Machar rebels. Details of a soldier allegedly killed are a hoax. Ignore them as lies", Lt. Col. Ankunda told Sudan Tribune by phone on Saturday.
The South Sudanese rebels have been accusing Uganda army of interfering in the internal conflict of South Sudan and called for the withdrawal of the foreign forces.
"Why does the UN [United Nations] continue to create a bad and false impression of Uganda’s role in peace efforts in the region? Very frustrating," tweeted the UPDF spokesperson on 4 February.
An agreement on cessation of hostilities signed on 23 January in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, also called for the withdrawal of UPDF. Till now, however, the rebels claim there was no sign of the Ugandan army withdrawal from the new nation.