Five Indian peacekeepers escorting a United Nations convoy were killed and an equal number wounded in an ambush by rebels in South Sudan on Tuesday.
Two Indian officers and 35 jawans, all part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), were escorting the convoy in the state of Jonglei when they were attacked, a senior army officer said. “The exchange of fire lasted an hour,” he added.
Lieutenant Colonel Mahipal Singh, naib subedar Shiv Kumar Pal, havildars Hira Lal and Bharat Sasmal, and sepoy Nand Kishore were among those killed in the rocket-propelled grenade attack in Jonglei, which has plunged into a vortex of communal violence and armed conflict. A captain was among those wounded, while seven civilians were also killed in the attack. Singh’s daughter is an officer in the Indian Air Force.
The victims were flown from Jonglei to capital Juba in three UN helicopters. Arrangements are being made to bring back the bodies of the Indian soldiers.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country carved out of Sudan in July 2011, represents the second-largest deployment of the Indian Army on foreign soil, with more than 2,200 Indian soldiers deployed there.
With 149 soldiers killed in different UN missions over the past six decades, no other country has suffered more casualties than India.