South Sudanese army denied on Sunday claims by the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, they shot down a government military aircraft in Upper Nile state.
The spokesperson of the government forces colonel Philip Aguer told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the general headquarters of the government army (SPLA) was unaware of the shooting down of a military aircraft in the oil-producing state of upper Nile state.
“I am not aware of this development. When did it occur? All our forces around Malakal are accounted for,” Aguer said on Sunday.
The SPLA spokesperson was reacting to the reports quoting the SPLM-IO fighters claiming that they have shot down on Sunday morning a gunship while it was bombarding their positions near Malakal.
(SPLM/SPLA-IO) “forces under the overall command of Major General Johnson Olony shot down another helicopter gunship on Sunday morning at Kodok in Fashoda (Upper Nile) state,” said James Gatdet Dak, in a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
He said this came after a failed attempt by government forces to recapture the state capital Malakal which is under rebel control since 28 June.
All the crew members, pilot as well as co-pilot on board were confirmed dead according to rebels commander general Carlo Kuol.
Last May, the rebel group said it shot a helicopter gunship over Melut town, near the main Paloch oilfields, killing a number of soldiers on board. Government denied the claim. However, a later mourning for a dead pilot killed in the shooting of the gunship revealed the incident.
South Sudan Tribune