New Delhi - Five Indian peacekeepers were killed on Tuesday
in an ambush in South Sudan, the Indian foreign ministry said, a day after the
head of the UN mission there warned about spiralling violence.
"Five peacekeepers from India with UNMISS (United
Nations Mission in South Sudan) killed in ambush in Jonglei," foreign
ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin wrote on Twitter, adding that four had
He confirmed the deaths at the hands of unknown
"rebels" to AFP and said the soldiers had been killed while
"escorting a UN convoy".
Jonglei has been the scene of widespread ethnic conflict
since South Sudan became independent in July 2011. Much of the trouble has been
in Pibor county, where the UN peacekeeping force is based.
An Indian soldier was shot and wounded there in March amid
high tensions about an imminent government crackdown, and a UN helicopter was
downed in December.
Amid renewed clashes between ethnic groups and government
forces, the UN troops have recently stepping up their patrols to deter violence
and fulfil their mission of protecting civilians.
UNMISS chief Hilde Johnson warned on Monday about the
"destabilisation" of the region.
"I urge the Murle, Lou Nuer and Dinka communities,
their leaders, and the governments of Jonglei and South Sudan to resume and
sincerely engage in peace initiatives," Johnson said, according to a UN
In March, she said that the government was expected to soon launch
an offensive against fighters loyal to local rebel leader David Yau Yau in the
India is a major contributor to the UN peacekeeping forces
around the world and has suffered losses in the past.
In 2010, rebels hacked to death three Indians in their camp
in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Akbaruddin said that the Indian foreign ministry was
arranging for the bodies of its peacekeepers in South Sudan to be returned