Decision on Congo in consultation with the UN: Antony

October 31st, 2008 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Concerned over attacks on India’s UN peacekeepers in war-ravaged Congo, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday said the matter has been taken up with the United Nations to evolve a mechanism to deal with such incidents.“We have already taken it up with the UN on how to proceed in the future,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the annual Naval Commanders’ Conference.

“We are concerned about the latest development there. They are a very serious development,” Antony added.

There have been two separate attacks on India’s UN peacekeepers in the past week, sources in the Army Headquarters here said.

Their genesis lay in the fighting that broke out in the eastern North Kivu province leading 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 pullout 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.

Five 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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