Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has denied allegations that it lost a fighter helicopter gunship in South Sudan.
South Sudan rebels allied to Riek Machar claim to have shot down a Ugandan helicopter gunship in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State.
James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesman, said on Sunday that their forces destroyed the helicopter gunship “which came to bomb our troops that have controlled Malakal town since Saturday”.
“It was downed at 4:10pm by our forces under the overall command of Major General Johnson Olony,” Gatdet added.
He said the destroyed gunship was identified as belonging to the Ugandan air force and that the picture of its wreckages will be availed to the public any time soon.
The UPDF spokesman, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, has clarified that “all Ugandan aircrafts are accounted for”.
He said “Uganda has no aircrafts in South Sudan” on his social media, Twitter handle.
“Claims by Riek Machar rebels to have hit one are a bad lie,” Ankunda added.
SPLA too dismisses the report
The SPLA has too dismissed rebel claims that they have shot down Ugandan helicopter in Malakal as propaganda.
A senior official told NC that all the army’s helicopters have been accounted for and that “Ugandan Allies are not deployed beyond Bor.”
“It is propaganda,” the General told NC.
“What is the operating range of these helicopters? We don’t have refuelling points and major airports between Juba and Malakal.”
“Of course it is nonsense. Aren’t these the same people or website who reported in April (2014) that they have captured Carlos Kuol while he defected to them in December (2013)?” the General said before hanging up annoyed.
Back in February 2014, rebels said they had shot dead a Ugandan gunship pilot in Lakes state capital Rumbek.
Ugandan People Defence Forces (UPDF) commander, Kayanja Muhanga, dismissed the rebels claims, saying his troops had never operated in Lakes state.
Ugandan troops were deployed to South Sudan after conflict erupted in mid-December and have been supporting government troops under president Salva Kiir to secure key areas from rebel fighters.
The deployment of Ugandan troops has outraged rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar, with UPDF troops accused of violating the terms of a ceasefire arrangement signed between South Sudan’s warring parties last month.
The international community has also urged foreign troops to withdraw, saying Uganda’s military involvement could inflame regional tensions.