JUBA, South Sudan — Armed rebels that South Sudan believes are backed by Sudan opened fire on a U.N. convoy today, killing five U.N. peacekeepers from India and up to seven civilians, officials said.
South Sudan's military spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, blamed the attack on fighters led by David Yau Yau, a rebel leader South Sudan's military has battled for months.
Aguer confirmed the deaths of five U.N. peacekeepers from India in the attack, and said five civilians also died. However, a U.N. official who demanded anonymity because of U.N. rules put the civilian death toll at seven.
A U.N. spokesman, Liam McDowall, confirmed that peacekeepers were killed. He declined to give numbers.
Aguer said the attack took place on a convoy traveling between the South Sudanese towns of Pibor and Bor early today.
“Definitely this attack was carried out by David Yau Yau's militia,” Aguer said. “They have been launching ambushes even on the SPLA for about six months now,” he said, using the acronym for South Sudan's military.
The head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, condemned the killings of the U.N. peacekeepers in a brief statement.
South Sudan ended decades of civil war with Sudan in 2005 and peacefully formed its own country in 2011. But the south is still plagued by internal violence and shaky relations with Sudan. Leaders in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, deny that they are arming Yau Yau.