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3 U.S. military aircraft hit in S.Sudan, 4 wounded

By Josh Lederman

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:33 a.m. HST, Dec 22, 2013

President Barack Obama said Saturday that continued violence and militancy in South Sudan would cost the world's newest country the support of the United States and other nations.

Obama said South Sudan's leaders have a responsibility to help protect Americans, who came under fire hours earlier during an evacuation attempt.

While vacationing in Hawaii, Obama spoke by telephone with national security aides, the White House said. He told his team to work with the U.N. to keep evacuating Americans from Bor, where some of South Sudan's worst violence over the last week has played out.

Among those briefing the president was his national security adviser, Susan Rice, who a day earlier recorded an audio message to South Sudan's leaders urging them not to allow the nation "to be torn apart by violence and suffering."

"This conflict can only be resolved peacefully through negotiations," the White House said in a statement Saturday. "Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community."

Secretary of State John Kerry called President Salva Kiir to urge the South Sudanese leader to avoid ethnic conflict, preserve the welfare of those fleeing the conflict and protect U.S. citizens there. Kerry was sending a special envoy to the region and told Kiir that South Sudan's challenges require leadership and political dialogue, the State Department said.

The U.S. has been working to evacuate American citizens and nonemergency government personnel from the African country, and last week shut down most embassy operations in the capital of Juba after what South Sudan's president described as an attempted coup.

On Saturday, gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate Americans in a remote region that has become a battle ground between the country's military and renegade troops, officials said. The three CV-22 Ospreys were about to land in Bor when they were hit and subsequently diverted to Entebbe, Uganda.

Four U.S. troops wounded in that incident are in stable condition, the White House said.

The violence has killed hundreds and has world leaders worried that a full-blown civil war could ignite in South Sudan. The South fought a decades-long war with Sudan before a 2005 peace deal resulted in a 2011 referendum that saw South Sudan break away from the North, taking most of the region's oil wealth with it.

In the call with U.S. officials, Obama directed his team to keep him abreast of developments in South Sudan. Even when on vacation, the president travels with senior-level national security aides who keep in close contact with Washington and brief him regularly on issues of concern.

"The president underscored the urgency of helping to support efforts to resolve the differences within South Sudan through dialogue," the White House said. "South Sudan's leaders must know that continued violence will endanger the people of South Sudan and the hard-earned progress of independence."

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kekelaward wrote:
Good thing the president is on top of this. oh, I meant on vacation.
on December 21,2013 | 09:06AM
Waimanalodayz1 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 21,2013 | 10:57AM
kekelaward wrote:
Unfortunately, with the scum enemy we are up against, the fire is coming from behind the women and children they are hiding behind. Cowards.
on December 21,2013 | 11:30AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Get our people out of there and let these nuts fight their own war.
on December 21,2013 | 11:47AM
Grimbold wrote:
The population there are people on the level of 500 AD. They are not able to create anything resembling a civilized state. It is just going to be a den of robber barons and slaves.
on December 22,2013 | 02:45AM
Ronin006 wrote:
The Sudanese have been killing each other for decades. Dividing Sudan into two countries in 1011 did not stop the killing. Nevertheless, many foreigners, including Americans have gone into the area for unknown reasons, but surely knowing it is a dangerous place and they would be in harm’s way. So now that the fighting and the killing have escalated, the US military once again is called upon to risk their lives to save the lives of Americans who never should have gone there.
on December 21,2013 | 03:41PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Correction to my previous post. Sudan was divided in 2011.
on December 21,2013 | 03:45PM
HD36 wrote:
Prior to 2011 China imported most of their oil from Sudan, around 500,000 barrels. They supported the North's dictator. The South now controls 2/3 rds of the oil, but the North controls the pipelines. My guess is there are corporate interests designing a pipeline elswhere, and oil specialist.
on December 22,2013 | 06:22AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Concerning Obama, the current situation seems to conjure up images of a certain Roman emperor playing the fiddle while Rome burned..."Those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it." Constitutional scholar? Community organizer? Puh-leeze!
on December 21,2013 | 06:21PM
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