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UN relief official 'deeply saddened' by death of Red Cross pilot shot over Sudan

UN relief official 'deeply saddened' by death of Red Cross pilot shot over Sudan

A top United Nations relief official said today that he was "deeply saddened" to learn of the death of a Danish pilot from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who was killed when his plane came under fire during a humanitarian mission over southern Sudan.

Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said today's tragedy, which followed the brutal killings of six ICRC workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo less than two weeks ago, underscored the dangers faced by humanitarian personnel in delivering assistance to those in need.

According to the ICRC, the aircraft was fired on midway between Lokichokio, Kenya, and Juba in southern Sudan. The attack occurred when the aircraft was climbing back to its assigned altitude after a technical problem had forced it to descend briefly to 2,000 meters.

The captain of the aircraft said that when the incident occurred he had heard what sounded like explosions and realized that his co-pilot had been hit. He turned back to Lokichokio but the co-pilot was dead on arrival.

ICRC said there were no passengers on the flight, which was a routine mission and had received the necessary authorizations from all the parties on the ground.