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Apr 11, 2013 at 11:06am IST

Bodies of five Indian peacekeepers killed in South Sudan reach Delhi

New Delhi: The bodies of the five Indian Peacekeepers, who were killed in South Sudan on Monday, have reached IGI Airport in New Delhi on Thursday. The five martyrs are expected to be given military state honours.

Five Indian soldiers, including a Lt Colonel, were killed and five, including a Captain, were injured during a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan when their 32-member convoy was attacked on Monday. The deceased were identified as - Lt Col Mahipal Singh, Naik Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal, Havildars Heera Lal and Bharat Sasmal and sepoy Nand Kishore.

Condemning the killings of the Indian peacemakers, the United States had asked the Government of South Sudan to conduct an investigation and ensure that the perpetrators were brought swiftly to justice. It also applauded India as a leading supporter of the UN peacekeeping operations in the conflict prone zones.

The United States had urged restraint among the affected communities of the region and demanded a full investigation into the attack, Ventrell had said. "We reiterate our strong support for UNMISS which continues to carry out its mandate with admiral determination and dedication, and we refer you to the United Nations for additional details on the attack," the US official had said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also condemned the attack on the Indian Army personnel in South Sudan. "I pay tributes to our brave soldiers," Singh said in his condolence message to the bereaved families on Wednesday.

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. India is a major contributor to UN peacekeeping forces around the world and has suffered losses in the past.