2 Indian peacekeepers injured in attack on UN base in S Sudan

2 Indian peacekeepers injured in attack on UN base in S SudanUNITED NATIONS: Two Indian peacekeepers have been injured in a “deadly and unprovoked” attack by a mob of armed men on civilians sheltering inside a UN base in the war-ravaged town of Bor in South Sudan.

The Indian peacekeepers were protecting about 5000 internally displaced persons, who had taken shelter at the UN base in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, when the “well-armed” members of the Dinka ethnic group yesterday attacked the base in the world’s newest nation.

The assailants came “under the guise of peaceful demonstrators” intending to present a petition to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

They forced their way into the facility and opened fire on the displaced persons sheltering inside.

The UN mission said the “violent” attack happened despite repeated warning shots fired by UNMISS peacekeepers.

The two Indian peacekeepers “sustained injuries repelling the mob”.

Dozens of internally displaced persons were wounded in the attack. At least 15 attackers were killed and there were reports of 40 civilian casualties.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack and the Indian side asked the Security Council to ensure a political settlement to the escalating tensions in the troubled nation.

The Indian side stressed that it is continuing to call on the powerful Security Council to ensure a political settlement to the dispute in the world’s youngest nation and to ensure that innocent civilians are not exposed to such dangers.

Indian soldiers continue to provide shelter and critical medical assistance to displaced civilians in the midst of escalating violence in South Sudan.

In an attack in April last year, five Indian UNMISS peacekeepers were killed when they were ambushed by about 200 attackers near Jonglei State.

Two UNMISS Indian Battalion troops were killed in action and one was injured on December 19 in Akobo following an assault on a UNMISS base.

The UN Chief strongly condemned the attack, saying the attack on a location where civilians are being protected by the United Nations is a “serious escalation.”

A statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson said any attack on peacekeepers is “unacceptable and constitutes a war crime.”

“The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and pledges all possible support to those wounded in this attack,” the statement added. Ban called on the South Sudan government to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of all the Mission’s civilian protection sites throughout the country.

The UN chief also urged all parties to refrain from any actions or statements that could further escalate the situation.

“UNMISS emphasizes the primary responsibility of South Sudanese to protect all its population and to maintain public order,” the mission said in a statement.

The mission called on the authorities and forces to protect all civilians, to ensure that the inviolability of UN premises is protected, and to take effective measures to prevent a recurrence of such attacks.

“UNMISS calls on all displaced persons sheltering in its bases to remain calm, exercise restraint, strictly respect the ground rules governing their stay in the camps and desist from any actions that may provoke violence,” the statement said.

The violence that has swept South Sudan since mid-December 2013 has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes after fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and forces who sided with former vice-president Riek Machar.

The violence has forced more than 1 million people in South Sudan to flee their homes. The planting season is under way but few are farming.

Four months into the conflict, UNMISS is hosting some 67,000 civilians at its bases. -PTI