New Delhi: Post-mortem on the bodies of the Army personnel, who were killed in South Sudan on Monday, will be conducted on Wednesday, said sources, adding that arrangements were being made to fly the bodies back to India.
Five Indian soldiers, including a Lt Colonel, were killed and four others 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 has 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.
"We condemn in the strongest terms today's attack by unknown assailants on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) convoy carrying peacekeepers and civilians in the State of Jonglei, which resulted in the deaths of five Indian soldiers along with at least seven civilians and injuries to several more UNMISS personnel," the State Department spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, said on Tuesday. "We convey our sympathies to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the attack, to UNMISS, and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as well as to the Government of India," he said.
The United States has urged restraint among the affected communities of the region and demanded a full investigation into the attack, Ventrell 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 said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also condemned the attack on 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.
(With additional information from PTI)