New Delhi: Five Indian Army personnel, including a Lt. Colonel, were killed on Tuesday and four injured during a U.N. peacekeeping mission when their 32-member convoy was attacked in Gurmuck in the volatile state of Jonglei, South Sudan.
“The convoy, comprising 32 Indian soldiers, was attacked and the casualties included one Lt. Colonel, one Junior Commission Officer and three jawans. There were also four wounded, of which one is of officer level,” official sources said.
The attack took place at 9.30 a.m. local time (12.35 p.m. IST).
“The Indian casualties, including the injured (together with other local civilian casualties) are being brought by three U.N. helicopters from Jonglei to Juba,” official sources said.
While there will be emergency treatment for the injured in the U.N. mission hospital in South Sudan, the arrangements were being made to bring back the bodies of those killed, they said.
The sources also said India’s Ambassador will be meeting with the Special Representative of the UNSG in South Sudan, Hilda Johnson to ascertain further details and to facilitate all arrangements, as necessary.
There are around 2,200 Indian Army personnel comprising two battalions, one based in Jonglei and the other in Malakkal, Upper Nile, on the border with Sudan.
Since South Sudan got independence in July 2011, it has witnessed ethnic strife, with Pibor county, the main base of UN peacekeeping force, being the centre of much of the violence.
Last month, an Indian soldier was shot there amid fears of a government crackdown.
India is a major contributor to U.N. peacekeeping forces around the world and has suffered losses in the past.