American journalist is 'caught in fighting' and killed in South Sudan, reports say

An American freelance journalist was killed Saturday when he was caught in the fighting between rebels and government troops in war-torn South Sudan, according to reports.

The U.S. embassy confirmed the death of Christopher Allen and said his family had been notified. His body was taken to the military hospital in South Sudan's capital, Juba.

His age and hometown were not immediately released.

Allen, who worked for various news outlets, was killed in heavy fighting in the town of Kaya, Reuters reported.

“We are sad for his family. He came here to tell our story ,” said one rebel who knew Allen, according to Reuters.

The rebel asked not to be named but said Allen had been in the middle of the fighting and wearing a jacket marked PRESS, Reuters reported.

South Sudan army spokesman Col. Domic Chol Santo told The Associated Press that Allen was killed Saturday morning when opposition rebels attacked Kaya near the Ugandan border.

He was "caught in the fighting" that also left 15 rebels dead, the army spokesman said.

Opposition spokesman William Gatjiath Deng said Allen and two other journalists had spent two weeks with rebel forces in Bazi, near Kaya, and were in the barracks there when South Sudanese troops attacked.

Allen was shot dead, and two opposition fighters were killed, Deng said. He said the other journalists were still with opposition forces Saturday night and may have returned to Uganda.

South Sudan's civil war is well into its fourth year, with tens of thousands of people killed. The fighting, often along ethnic lines, defies peace deals and unilateral cease-fires.

Millions of people have fled the oil-rich but impoverished East African nation, creating what has been called the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. More than a million have fled across the border into Uganda, while fighting has flared in the border area.

The international community has struggled to find ways to end the conflict. Late last year, a U.S.-led attempt to have the U.N. Security Council impose an arms embargo on South Sudan failed with insufficient support. Both sides in the civil war have been accused of abuses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.