: A file photo of Nepalese peacekeepers deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. (Photo: UN).
 : A file photo of Nepalese peacekeepers deployed with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. (Photo: UN).. Image Source: IANS

United Nations, Sep 18 : A Nepalese peacekeeper was injured in an attack by a government soldier in South Sudan, according to UN officials.

The peacekeeper, who was shot and wounded while travelling in a convoy in the town of Yei on Saturday, was airlifted to capital Juba for medical treatment, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

The UN Mission for South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement that the four-vehicle convoy, which included two water tankers, was traveling from the UN base in Yei to collect water when the incident took place.

A Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier shot directly at one of the vehicles, hitting the Nepalese peacekeeper in the leg before running off into a crowd, it said.

"The troops were unable to return fire as they did not want to risk injuring civilians," the Mission added.

UNMISS chief David Shearer said: "This direct attack on UN peacekeepers here to help the people of South Sudan is unacceptable. The perpetrator must be found and held accountable by government authorities."
About 1,700 Nepalese peacekeepers are deployed in South Sudan and just last week they were awarded a UN medal for their "nimble and robust" protection of civilians.

"The medal you have been awarded today is a symbol of what you have been able to achieve on behalf of the UN for the people of South Sudan," Shearer said at the medal ceremony.

Nepalese Brigadier Nain Raj Dahal said: "So far, 63 (Nepalese) peacekeepers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the quest for peace whereas 66 have been disabled."
In June, a Bangladesh peacekeeper, Navy Lieutenant Commander Ashraf Siddiqui, who was traveling in a convoy led by Nepalese forces, was killed in an attack.

So far 61 peacekeepers with UNMISS, at least seven of them Indian, have been killed in the civil war-torn nation.

Last week, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, signed a peace agreement in neighbouring Ethiopia in hopes of ending the five-year civil war.

The agreement provides for Machar to regain the Vice Presidency, which he abandoned and fled the country in 2016 during the last attempt to bring peace.

However, UNMISS reported that there had been reports of fresh clashes between government and opposition forces in the area surrounding Kajo-Keji and in the Yei area in Central Equatoria state on Saturday.

Shearer said: "This situation is evidence of a lack of command and control of armed forces which has resulted in unruly elements who continue to commit human rights abuses in the area. It is beholden on the government to bring their forces under control."
(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

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