UN halts helicopter flights after Sudan shooting

The United Nations said on Thursday it has suspended helicopter flights in the tense southern Sudan border region after one of its aircraft was apparently shot at.

The incident happened on February 16 as the aircraft approached Kadugli airport in South Kordofan state after a flight from Abyei, the UN's humanitarian agency (OCHA) said in a weekly report.

Ground crews found a bullet hole in the underside of the machine, it said.

"No one on the helicopter was injured and the helicopter later returned to Abyei. Consequently, UN flights between Abyei and Kadugli have been suspended pending an investigation," OCHA said.

Kadugli is the government-controlled capital of the state where troops since last June have been battling ethnic minority insurgents from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, who fought alongside the former rebels now ruling South Sudan.

The South became independent in July after an overwhelming vote that followed more than two decades of civil war.

Sovereignty over Abyei, in the southwestern corner of South Kordofan, is contested between Sudan and South Sudan.

About 3,800 troops are based in the area for the UN's Interim Security Force for Abyei.

by Usman Sharifi © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Feb 23, 2012