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WASHINGTON — Four American troops were injured Saturday when their aircraft came under fire over South Sudan, where they were attempting to evacuate American citizens. The mission was aborted.

The military said three aircraft were attacked by small-arms fire from the ground as they were approaching the town of Bor. All three aircraft sustained damage in the attack, the military said in a statement Saturday.

The aircraft, tilt-rotor osprey, were able to divert to Entebbe, Uganda, where the wounded American servicemembers were transferred to Air Force C-17 planes and flown to Nairobi, Kenya, for treatment. The four were treated and were in stable condition, the military said.

The U.S. forces were part of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

Bor is the Jonglei state capital and the scene of intense fighting for the past week.

South Sudanese officials blamed the attack against the American aircraft on rebels. The U.S. military identified the ground fire as coming from "unknown forces."

The country has been racked by violence for a week after an attempted coup triggered fighting between rival ethnic groups. The violence has killed hundreds and has world leaders worried that a full-blown civil war could ignite in South Sudan.

The U.S. aircraft were hit a day after a United Nations helicopter was downed by small-arms fire in the same state. Rob McKee, operations manager for Warrior Security, a South Sudan security company, told the Associated Press the helicopters were trying to evacuate personnel from a base in Yuai, Jonglei state on Friday.

Earlier this week, President Obama dispatched U.S. troops to help protect the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Juba. The U.S. Embassy organized at least five emergency evacuation flights to help U.S. citizens leave the country. Other countries like Britain, Germany and Italy also helped citizens evacuate.

Obama was updated on the attack on the U.S. military personnel after he arrived in Hawaii late Friday to begin a two-week vacation with his family. He received a secure telephone briefing on Saturday morning from several members of his national security team — including National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken — about the situation on the ground in South Sudan.

"The President underscored the urgency of helping to support efforts to resolve the differences within South Sudan through dialogue. South Sudan's leaders must know that continued violence will endanger the people of South Sudan and the hard-earned progress of independence," according to a White House statement. "This conflict can only be resolved peacefully through negotiations. Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community."

Contributing: The Associated Press

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