A 26-year-old American journalist was killed in Kaya, Yei River State, during fighting between government and opposition forces on Saturday, the US Department of State has confirmed.
Christopher Allen was a freelance journalist who had worked for several U.S. news outlets. He had been reportedly embedded with the opposition forces in [South] Sudan for a week before he was killed.
Reuters quoted SPLA Deputy Spokeesman Col. Domic Santo as saying Allen was “”caught in the fighting” that left at least 15 dead.
“We can confirm that U.S. citizen Christopher Allen died in South Sudan on August 26, 2017 while working as a journalist. We express our condolences to Mr. Allen’s family,” it said in a statement.
“The Embassy stands ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for Mr. Allen’s family, we have no further comment at this time.”
Before working in South Sudan, Allen covered the war in Ukraine, according to multiple media reports.
He was one of the first journalists on the scene after Russia-backed rebels there were blamed for shooting down a Malaysian airliner, killing all 298 people aboard, said Pat Hughes, a friend of the family’s and a former Inquirer copy editor.
“He had a passion for telling the stories of people touched by war,” she said. “He went to South Sudan for the same reason all good journalists go to trouble spots: to get the story and to bring that story to the world’s attention.”
The U.S. embassy confirmed the death of Christopher Allen and said his family had been notified, Fox News reported. His body has been taken to the military hospital in Juba.
Despite the signing of the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan in August 2015, between the government and the armed opposition, fighting continues to be reported in the country, particularly Equatoria and Upper Nile regions.
Fighting between government forces and the IO in Juba reignited in July 2016.
In the past year alone, over one million civilians, many of them from villages in Equatoria region, have fled to neighboring countries, according to the Human Rights Watch.
The international community has urged the South Sudanese leaders to implement the peace deal, fully.