Two Indian peacekeepers were injured in a “deadly and unprovoked” attack, that killed at least 58 and wounded more than 100, by a mob of armed men on civilians sheltering inside a UN base in the war-ravaged town of Bor in South Sudan.
The top UN official in the war-torn nation, Toby Lanzer, praised peacekeepers from India, Nepal and South Korea for preventing what could have been a massacre of up to 5,000 people, and vowed the world body would use “lethal force” again to protect civilians under their protection.
In the clearest account yet of Thursday’s incident in government-controlled town of Bor, Lanzer described how a group of around 350 armed youths in civilian clothes “used extremely violent force to breach the perimeter” of the base.
He said they opened fire on terrified civilians, who have sought shelter with the UN from a wave of ethnic violence, with the apparent aim of killing as many people as possible. “When we realised we were under attack we responded... the quick actions of the peacekeepers saved lives,” Lanzer said.
“Forty-eight bodies, including children, women, men, have been recovered from inside the base. The bodies of 10 attackers have been found outside the base. The total death toll is 58, but that could increase as over 100 people were wounded, some of them very seriously,” he said.
The Indian peacekeepers were protecting the internally displaced persons from the “well-armed” members of the Dinka ethnic group.
The assailants came “under the guise of peaceful demonstrators” intending to present a petition to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The UN mission said the attack happened despite repeated warning shots fired by UNMISS peacekeepers. The two Indian peacekeepers “sustained injuries repelling the mob”.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack and the Indian side asked the Security Council to ensure a political settlement to the escalating tensions in the troubled nation.
The Indian side stressed that it is continuing to call on the powerful Security Council to ensure a political settlement to the dispute in the world’s youngest nation and that innocent civilians are not exposed to such dangers.
Indian soldiers continue to provide shelter and critical medical assistance to displaced civilians in the midst of escalating violence in South Sudan.