A UN helicopter was shot down by the South Sudanese army on Friday, killing all four people on board, according to UN officials.
The helicopter was part of a peacekeeping mission to South Sudan, called UNMISS. It was created after the country seceded from Sudan in July of last year, according to Reuters.
The UN website notes that the helicopter’s crew were killed but the UN’s mission stated, “The helicopter was not carrying any passengers” at the time of the crash.
It is not clear what caused the South Sudanese military to fire on the MI-9 helicopter, but UNMISS has started an investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. the crash occurred near the Likuangole settlement in the state of Jonglei in the eastern area of the country.
The helicopter was on a reconnaissance mission around 10 am local time. Initial reports to UNMISS indicated that the helicopter crashed and caught fire after it was fired upon. The Mission immediately attempted a search and rescue operation, but were forced to confirm that all four crew members died.
Communications between UNMISS and South Sudan’s armed forces, the SPLA, confirmed that the SPLA fired at a helicopter in the area on Friday. UNMISS stated of the incident:
“The Mission extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the crew.”
The BBC notes that the UN’s mission in South Sudan has been helping those who are caught in the deadly clashes involving rival communities in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. Additional details of the UN helicopter incident were not immediately released.