UN praise for Indian peacekeepers in S Sudan

Official says Indian troops saved lives by acting with alacrity to fend off attack, that left two soldiers dead.

Last updated: 23 Dec 2013 07:52
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The conflict in South Sudan has forced thousands to take shelter in UN compounds EPA]

An Indian peacekeeping force, which lost two soldiers in the South Sudan conflict, has been praised for preventing a carnage.

Reports quoting a top United Nations official said  the 43-member Indian peacekeeping reacted with alacrity and prevented what would have been much higher casualties,.

The peacekeepers were helping members of the Dinka community escape an attack from the rival Lou Neurs tribe at their base in Jonglei state town of Akobo in South Sudan.

"As a mission, we are inspired by the dedication shown by the Indian troops," Hilde Johnson, special representative for the UN secretary-general for South Sudan, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.
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"Had it not been for their bravery, the death toll at the (UNMISS base) could have been higher." 

Of the two killed, Dharmesh Sangwan was a silver medallist at the 2006 Doha Asian Games. Ten days short of the 35th birthday, Sangwan had planned to celebrate his birthday with his parents, wife and children, said reports.

The other victim Kanwar Pal Singh, 47, was to retire in a couple of months.

The attack, which occurred on December 19,  occurred when 2000 rebels of the Lous Neurs tribe came looking for 36 Dinkas who were hiding in the UN compound, under Indian protection.  

The Dinkas were whisked away by the well-armed Neurs and it is not clear what happened to them.

The attack was the second involving Indian peacekeepers. In April, five soldiers died in an ambush at Jonglei. 

Of the 7633 UN personnel on duty in South Sudan in various capacities as peacekeepers, one-third is Indian.

Jonglei, the biggest of 10 states in South Sudan,  is at the core of the conflict and a few hundred civilians have died in recent months in fighting, reports said.

Though fighting has occurred intermittently since the formation of the new country, a full-fledged conflict has raged since the fall out between President Salwa Kiir and the former vice-president of the new country Riek Machar since July 2013.  Thousands of civilians and foreigners have taken refuge in UN compounds across South Sudan, and many have fled the country.


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