4 U.S. Troops Injured in South Sudan Rescue Mission

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 21 2013 3:53 PM

Four U.S. Troops Injured in South Sudan Rescue Mission

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US Army soldiers stand guard as an aircraft remains on the runway awaiting the arrival of American nationals who are being evacuated due to recent violence in South Sudan

Photo by SAMIR BOL/AFP/Getty Images

Gunfire from an unidentified source struck three U.S. military aircraft that were approaching the South Sudan town of Bor, injuring four American troops. The servicemembers were trying to evacuate Americans from the world’s newest counry that has found itself engulfed in an armed struggle that looks like the beginning of a full-blown civil war. The rescue mission was aborted and the wounded troops were sent to Nairobi, Kenya, for treatment. An official said one of those injured was in “fairly serious” conditions while the rest had non-life-threatening injuries, reports the Washington Post.

The Associated Press hears word from someone in the region that the American troops did not tell the top commander in Bor that they were going to arrive, which could help explain the gunfire. South Sudan’s government recognizes it is not in control of Bor. The U.S. Embassy in the capital of Juba said it has evacuated some 450 Americans this week.

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The attack on the U.S. aircraft took place in the same region where a U.N. helicopter had been shot down a day earlier, although no crew or passengers were harmed. Hundreds of people have been killed in nearly a week of fighting in South Sudan between those loyals to South Sudan President Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and former vice president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, who was fired in July and is accused of trying to take over the presidency, reports Reuters. Machar told the BBC on Saturday the rebel troops that are under his control have captured much of the country, including the key oil-producing state of Unity.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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