UN Mission confirms death of 2 Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan   2013-12-20 22:21:28            

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Friday confirmed that two Indian peacekeepers were killed and one other injured when a base sheltering civilians in the world's youngest country was stormed on Thursday.

"We can confirm that two UNMISS Indian Battalion troops were killed in action," the UN Mission said in a statement issued here.

"UNMISS can also confirm that one injured Indian soldier has been transported to the Mission's medical facility in Malakal," the statement said.

UNMISS made the confirmation after it conducted an aerial assessment to Akobo Town in South Sudan's restive Jonglei state.

On Thursday evening, India's Ambassador to the United Nations Asoke Mukerji said that three of his country's soldiers were killed in South Sudan. It was the first announcement of UN fatalities from this week's upsurge of ethnic-based violence in the country.

"UNMISS condemns in the strongest terms the violence that occurred in Akobo and continues in other parts of the country," the statement said.

"We call on all parties to the crisis to refrain from further violence and seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis," it added.

Unknown assailants attacked a United Nations base in South Sudan Friday, possibly killing or injuring civilians who had sought refuge inside during violent clashes between government forces and rebels, with the number of people fleeing to UN installations now reaching 35,000.

As the attack took place, 43 Indian peacekeepers, six UN police advisers and two UN civilian staffers were present at the base. About 30 South Sudanese had sought shelter from the turmoil plaguing areas of Akobo County, the Mission said on Thursday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday said he was "appalled" to learn of the attack on the UNMISS base in Akobo and demanded that government and opposition forces respect the rights of civilians and ensure their safety and security.

"UNMISS is doing everything it can, within its means and in a very fluid situation, to protect civilians, as well as United Nations and international personnel on the ground," said a statement issued by Ban's spokesman.

"There are indications that civilians may have been killed and wounded in the attack, but this remains to be verified. Should these reports prove true, those responsible must be held accountable for their crimes," the statement said.

Overall UNMISS has over 6,800 troops and police in the country, which gained independence after seceding from Sudan less than three years ago and has been thrown into turmoil since Sunday when, according to media reports, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir's government said soldiers loyal to former deputy president Riek Machar, dismissed in July, launched an attempted coup.

Hundreds of people have been killed since then, according to reports.

Acting deputy UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, said on Thursday the government has reported to UNMISS that there has been youth mobilization and movement towards its base in Bor, in Jonglei state, where it is sheltering over 14,000 civilians.

The UN secretary-general's special representative in the country, Hilde Johnson, remains in constant contact with the government and others over the situation, he added.

On Thursday in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said about 20,000 people, mainly women and children, were still camped at UN premises in Juba, capital of South Sudan.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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