United Nations/New Delhi : Two Indian peacekeepers were killed when about 2,000 rebels ransacked their temporary base in South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei state, the second such incident in eight months in which Indian soldiers have died in the world’s newest country.
After the incident, additional troops were moved towards the area to extricate the remaining Indian soldiers from there, Indian Army headquarters in Delhi said. “We can confirm that two UNMISS Indian Battalion troops were killed in action.
UNMISS can also confirm that one injured Indian soldier has been transported to the Mission’s medical facility in Malakal,” a UN press release said.
Earlier, the Indian Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji had told a UN meeting that three Indian troops had died there but later it was clarified that there were only two casualties.
Subedar K P Singh (Army Medical Corps) from Bhondsi in Gurgaon and Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan (2 Rajputana Rifles) from Charkhi Dadri in Haryana are the two Junior Commissioned Officers who lost their lives in the incident.
Mukerji told PTI that about 1500-2000 people made a forced entry into the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base at Akobo, which at the time had 43 Indian soldiers, six political UN officers and 12 civilian staff.
About 30 South Sudanese people had sought shelter at the base from the turmoil plaguing areas of Akobo County.
The ethnic Lou Nuer youths asked the Indian soldiers to hand over the South Sudanese people but the Indian soldiers refused.
The rebels then started shooting indiscriminately and killed three Indian soldiers. However, all 18 UN political officers and civilian staff were accounted for and safe.
Mukerji said Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the national army of South Sudan, took the UN personnel to safety.
The force headquarters in South Sudan sent medical support to evacuate the injured and would later extract all the UN personnel, including the Indian peacekeepers.
“We want the UN Security Council to investigate and prosecute these people who have killed UN peacekeepers. This is the responsibility of the UN. We have been asking for this again and again and so far we have not seen any action on this,” Mukerji said.
Mukerji said the UN peacekeepers are deployed to protect civilians and they work in difficult conditions. India is one of the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions with 150,000 soldiers deployed at various peacekeeping missions.
The attack is the second incident in South Sudan in eight months in which Indian soldiers have been killed. Earlier in April, an attack against a UN peacekeeping convoy in the mid-African country had killed five Indian soldiers.