UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Friday condemned "in the strongest terms" an attack on a UN base sheltering civilians in northeast South Sudan, which killed at least 20 civilians and two Indian peacekeepers.
"The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack on an UNMISS (the United Nations Mission in South Sudan) camp in Akobo, on December 19, which resulted in the death of two Indian peacekeepers and the wounding of another as well as at least 20 other causalities of individuals seeking UNMISS protection," the Security Council said in an statement.
The attack happened on Thursday afternoon "when an estimated 2, 000 armed youths believed to be of Lou Nuer ethically surrounded the UNMISS in Akobo and opened fire in the direction of South Sudanese civilians of Dinka ethnic origin who had sought refuge inside the compound earlier," said UNMISS.
At the time of the deadly attack, 43 Indian peacekeepers, six UN police advisers and two UN civilian staffers were at the base, which also housed about 30 South Sudanese seeking shelter from the turmoil plaguing areas of Akobo county, the mission said on Thursday.
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the fighting and targeted violence against civilians and specific ethnic and other communities occurring across the country that have resulted in hundreds of deaths and casualties, and tens of thousands of internally displaced persons," the statement said.
The UN body also warned that intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission may amount to a crime under international law, and called on South Sudanese authorities to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
UNMISS has more than 6,800 troops and police in the country, which gained independence after seceding from Sudan less than three years ago. The world's youngest country has been thrown into turmoil since Sunday when, according to the South Sudanese government, soldiers loyal to former Deputy President Riek Machar launched an attempted coup. Hundreds of people have been killed since then, according to reports.
"The members of the Security Council expressed grave alarm and concern regarding the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan resulting from the political dispute among the country's political leaders which threatens serious implications for the long-term security and stability of South Sudan, as well as for the neighboring countries and other peace and security challenges in the region," the statement said.
The 15-member Security Council also encouraged all South Sudan' s leaders, political and military, to engage in a political process of national reconciliation and constitutional reform through peaceful and inclusive means, underpinned by respect for the rule of law, the statement said.
"The members of the Security Council called on all relevant states and organizations to use their influence with South Sudan's political leaders to bring about an end to the violence and initiate reconciliation," it added.
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