Two Indian peacekeepers killed in S Sudan

Two Indian peacekeepers killed in S Sudan

Two Indian Army soldiers from Haryana, who were members of the UN Peacekeeping Force, were killed and a third one from West Bengal was injured when a mob from an African rebel group attacked an outpost in South Sudan on Thursday.

Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan, 33 and Subedar Kumar Pal Singh, 46, were killed when 1,500-2,000 armed men struck at a temporary operational base at Akoba in South Sudan, which is divided on ethnic lines and witnessing a clash between two tribal community for the last few days.

Both soldiers are from 8 Rajputana Rifle regiment. While Sangwan is a resident of Chrkhi Dadri in Bhiwani and survived by his wife, 10-year old son and 8-year old daughter, Singh is a resident of Bhondsi (Gurgaon) and survived by his wife.

“Mortal remains of Indian soldiers will be flown to its capital Juba by the UN troops and subsequently to India on December 22,” said an Army officer.

A third person Naik Sahabul Mandal from Ranaghat in West Bengal was injured. He has been taken to a hospital at Malakal.

The violence began when a group of 36 individuals from Dinka tribe sought protection in the temporary base, which was being manned by Indian Battalion-1, a part of the UN Peace Force. Their opponents from Lou Neur community came looking for the Dinkas. The two groups are involved in a number of ethnic clashes and cattle raids in various parts of the world's newest nation.

Protection of civilians is a mandated task of the UN force, deployed in violence-ridden nations to maintain peace.

Sensing trouble in that area a day back, the battalion sought reinforcement of the temporary post. Even though the base had a strength of one officer, 5 junior commissioned officer and 30 soldiers, the officer and six soldiers took off in a helicopter at 1830 hours to reach the higher ups in the command structure to discuss reinforcement.

The unit's BMP armoured vehicle was sent to the helipad to protect the chopper from rebel fire.

In the absence of the BMP, the temporary operational base was attacked by a group of 1,500-2,000 people, some of them carrying weapons to target the Dinkas inside the camp.

They forcibly entered the camp and fired at the Dinkas. The two Indian soldiers died in the cross fire. The base was out of communication for a long time. At the end, the army base was ransacked and all the Dinkas were dragged out.

The civil war in South Sudan is a fall out of attempted coup bid by its former vice president Riek Machar against president Salva Kiir.

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