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Armed rebels that South Sudan believes are backed by Sudan opened fire on a UN convoy on Tuesday, killing five UN peacekeepers from India and at least 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.
The top UN envoy in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said in a statement that five peacekeepers and seven civilians working with the UN mission were killed. She said at least nine additional peacekeepers and civilians were injured and some remain unaccounted for.
Aguer said a convoy travelling between the South Sudanese towns of Pibor and Bor was attacked on Tuesday morning.
"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.
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.
Johnson condemned the attack and sent condolences to the families of the dead and injured.