Five Indian peacekeepers were killed in South Sudan on Tuesday morning, after the convoy they were escorting was ambushed by unidentified rebels.
The troops were part of the UNMISS (United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan). Five other Indian army personnel were also injured, with four receiving gunshot injuries and a fifth coming down with a splinter injury.
The casualties belonged to the Indian Army’s 6 Mahar and 9 Mechanized Infantry regiments.
Of the five killed, Lieutenant Colonel Mahipal Singh and Havaldar Hiralal were from 9 Mechanized Infantry and Naik Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal, Havaldar Bharat Singh and Sepoy Nand Kishore were from the 6 Mahar Regiment.
Colonel Mahipal Singh, hailing from Mahendergarh, was leading a six-vehicle escort of a five-vehicle convoy, from Gumuruk to Bor in the Jonglei state of South Sudan.
The convoy departed at 0700 hours local time and was ambushed at 0830 hours local time 8 kilometers from Gumuruk. At the end of an hour-long firefight, the Indian peacekeepers sustained the five fatal and five non-fatal casualties. Seven civilians were also killed in the firefight, who’s identities have not, so far, been established.
The other officer in the 37-personnel escort, Captain Bhagirath of 9 Mechanized Infantry Regiment was among the injured, besides four Other Ranks. The injured have been evacuated by helicopters for medical attention.
These troops have been in South Sudan since last September. These two infantry battalions and other supporting units make up the Indian Army contribution of around 2,300 troops to the UN Mission in South Sudan. 6,954 Indian Army troops are currently deployed in UN Missions in Congo, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
Before Tuesday, 139 Indian Army personnel have been killed while wearing the UN Blue Helmet. Last year, Naik Krishan Kumar of the Brigade Of The Guards/13th Sikh Light Infantry Battalion Group was awarded a posthumous Shaurya Chakra>Click me after he was killed while deployed in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
Meanwhile, the members of the Security Council issued a statement and ‘condemned in the strongest terms the 9 April attack by unidentified armed persons on a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) convoy in Jonglei, South Sudan, in which five Indian peacekeepers and at least seven civilians were killed’.
“The members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of the peacekeepers and the UNMISS staff killed in the attack, as well as to the Government of India. They called on the Government of South Sudan to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said the statement.
The Secretary-General of the UN issued a statement saying he is ‘appalled by the attack on an UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) convoy this morning’. “He condemns in the strongest terms the killing of five Indian peacekeepers and two UNMISS national staff and five civilian staff contractors in Gumuruk, Jonglei state, South Sudan. Nine other colleagues were also injured in the attack, and some are in critical condition.”
“He calls on the Government of South Sudan to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. He recalls that the killing of peacekeepers is a war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.”
“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the Governments of India and South Sudan and to the families of the peacekeepers, staff members and contractors killed in the attack,” said the statement.
Indian Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurien Antony expressed his condolences at the unfortunate loss of lives of Indian soldiers in the incident, in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“Antony has also conveyed his grief to the families of the fallen soldiers and lauded their bravery in the highest traditions of the Indian Army and in contribution to the peace and security in the world.”
“The bodies of the deceased soldiers are being brought to India for their final rites with full military honors,” the statement added.