New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) France has strongly condemned the attack on a UN peacekeeper patrol in South Sudan, which claimed the lives of five Indian soldiers and several UN civilian staff, and expressed condolences over the deaths.
"We express our condolences to the Indian authorities and our solidarity with the victims' families. France calls on the government of South Sudan to institute an inquiry immediately into this attack against a peacekeeping operation and bring its perpetrators to justice," said a statement from the French embassy here.
"France reaffirms its full support to the action of the UN Mission in South Sudan as well as to the states that contribute to the consolidation of peace in this country through their participation," it said.
"We salute India's major contribution to the UN peacekeeping troops and convey our heartfelt condolences to the Indian government," the statement said.
Five Indian army personnel, including a lieutenant colonel, serving on a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, were killed Tuesday when armed rebels launched an audacious attack on a convoy they were escorting.
Seven civilians working for the UN mission in the country were also killed in the attack that lasted for about an hour.
Five Indian Army personnel, including a captain, suffered serious injuries.
Officials said the 37-member convoy headed to Bor town came under attack near Gumuruk town in the volatile state of Jonglei.
The Indian group, led by two officers and soldiers from the 9 Mechanised Infantry battalion and 6 Mahar Regiment, was targeted by suspected rebels who used small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
The dead have been identified as Lt.Col. Mahipal Singh, Naib Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal, Havaldars Heera Lal and Bharat Sasmal and Sipahi Naval Kishore.
--Indo-Asian News service