Army concerned at attacks on Indian peacekeepers in Congo

October 30th, 2008 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Concerned over two separate attacks on Indian peacekeepers in the Congo in which an officer was injured, the Indian Army has urged the UN to ensure that corrective measures were taken.“The attack on our soldiers in Congo has been taken note of at the highest level. We have informed the United Nations Security Council as well. We are awaiting a decision from the UN. This is their mission and we cannot influence our soldiers,” the Indian Army’s deputy chief, Lt. Gen. S.S. Dhillon, told reporters here Thursday.

Both incidents occurred in the past week, sources in the Army Headquarters here said.

Their genesis lay in the fighting that had broken out in the eastern North Kivu province that led to the Uruguayan troops deployed there pulling out. Senegalese troops were then asked to proceed to the area but refused to move in. The Indian troops were then sent to the area and the local residents, angered over the pull out of the Uruguayan troops, began pelting stones at them as they arrived.

A lieutenant colonel received slight injuries in the stone pelting but did not require hospitalisation.

Four days ago, rebels fired at two armoured personnel carriers of the Indian contingent while they were providing security cover to the civilians in the area but there were no casualties.

The firing occurred during a battle between government troops and the rebels.

The Indian Army, with 4,500 personnel, is the largest contributor to the 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

With rebel forces led by Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda now headed for North Kivu’s capital Goma after overrunning Rutshuru town on Tuesday, there is danger of the Indian peacekeepers getting sucked directly into the conflict.

The UN deployment in the Congo is termed a chapter seven mission under which the Blue Berets can initiate fire if this is warranted. Most other UN deployments around the world are termed chapter six missions, which means the troops can only fire back in self-defence.

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