US man killed in South Sudan; army says ‘caught in fighting’
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — An American has been killed in civil war-torn South Sudan, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday, while South Sudan’s army and opposition said the journalist was caught in the fighting between the two sides.
The embassy confirmed the death of Christopher Allen and said his family had been notified. His body was taken to the military hospital in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
South Sudan army spokesman Col. Domic Chol Santo told The Associated Press that the man was killed Saturday morning when opposition rebels attacked the town of Kaya near the borders with Uganda and Congo.
He was “caught in the fighting” that also left 15 rebels dead, the army spokesman said.
Opposition spokesman William Gatjiath Deng said Allen and two other journalists had spent two weeks with rebel forces in Bazi, near Kaya, and were in the barracks there when South Sudanese troops attacked.
Allen was shot dead, and two opposition fighters were killed, Deng said. He said the other journalists were still with opposition forces Saturday night and may have returned to Uganda.
South Sudan’s civil war is well into its fourth year, with tens of thousands of people killed. The fighting, often along ethnic lines, defies peace deals and unilateral cease-fires.
Millions of people have fled the oil-rich but impoverished East African nation, creating what has been called the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. More than a million have fled across the border into Uganda, while fighting has flared in the border area.
The international community has struggled to find ways to end the conflict. Late last year, a U.S.-led attempt to have the U.N. Security Council impose an arms embargo on South Sudan failed with insufficient support. Both sides in the civil war have been accused of abuses.