US journalist among 19 killed in South Sudan fighting


A United States citizen working in South Sudan as a freelance journalist was among 19 people killed during fighting between government troops and rebels in Yei River state, rebels and the military said.

Christopher Allen, who worked for various news outlets, was killed in heavy fighting in Kaya. South Sudan has been convulsed by conflict since late 2013, pitting President Salva Kiir’s troops against those of rebel leader Riek Machar.
“On the ground, about 16 bodies were found around the defensive position of the SPLA including this white man,” Santo Domic Chol, a military spokesman, told Reuters. Three government soldiers were also killed, he said.

Rebels identified him as Allen, who was embedded with them for the past week.
“We are sad for his family. He came here to tell our story ,” said one rebel who knew Allen. He asked not to be named but said Allen had been in the middle of the fighting and was wearing a jacket marked PRESS.

Chol said rebels attacked an army base in Kaya but were repulsed after an hour-long fight.

The US government did not respond when Reuters sought comment.

The country spiralled into civil war, with fighting along ethnic lines, after Kiir sacked Machar in late 2013.

A peace accord was signed in August 2015 and Machar returned to the capital in April last year to share power with Kiir, before the deal fell apart less than three months later and Machar and his supporters fled.

The conflict has forced about four million people to flee. Uganda currently hosts more than a million South Sudanese refugees, while over 330,000 have fled to Ethiopia.