U.S. Marines were forced to rescue an American convoy in South Sudan after soldiers opened fire for no apparent reason in July.
The soldiers reportedly fired between 50-100 rounds at the convoy carrying senior American diplomats. Some American diplomats told Foreign Policy the soldiers were members of South Sudan’s personal presidential guard.
The U.S. Department of State acknowledged the incident, but pushed back on the intention of the shooting, telling Foreign Policy, “We do not believe our vehicles and personnel were specifically targeted.”
The incident occurred around the same time South Sudanese troops reportedly went on a murderous rape rampage against foreign aid workers July 11. The troops raped several foreign women, specifically targeted American citizens and forced foreigners to watch as they executed a local journalist.
The incidents come amid increased power struggles between warring factions of South Sudanese society. The U.S. is trying to get the South Sudanese government to accept an additional force of United Nations Peacekeepers. The U.N. already has a contingent of nearly 12,000 peacekeepers, which have been unable to quell the violence. South Sudanese officials are wary of letting even more peacekeepers in, fearing increased Western influence and power.
American officials speculated that the attack on the U.S. convoy, and deliberate targeting of Westerners, was a concerted attempt to get all Western powers out of the country.
The strategy may work, reports indicate several U.S. diplomats left the country in the wake of the incident. The U.S. also deployed dozens of additional U.S. Marines to the Embassy in South Sudan for force protection.
The ambush is not unprecedented, South Sudanese soldiers reportedly took a shot at the American ambassador’s convoy in November, 2014. “We have bulletproof glass, thankfully, because it put two big holes in them,” the U.S. ambassador at the time told local media.
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