Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two Indians Killed In Central African Republic by French Forces

Two Indians killed in Central African Republic by French forces

TNN | Mar 27, 2013, 03.52 AM IST

NEW DELHI: France has assured protection of Indians living in violence-ridden Central African Republic (CAR), a day after French forces shot and killed two Indians and injured six during a shootout near the airport of the capital Bangui. The Indians were travelling in a speeding truck belonging to Chadian forces.

French President Francois Hollande wrote a personal letter to PM Manmohan Singh expressing regret for the deaths. Singh received the letter after he landed in Durban for the BRICS summit. Hollande also assured Singh that a high level inquiry had been ordered into the killings.

The assurance was conveyed to defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday by his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian during a phone conversation. The French government also assured the Indians that the inquiry would be conducted in a transparent manner and the results shared with India.

Meanwhile, the French have moved the injured Indians to their military care facility in N'Djamena, Chad. The French defence minister is said to have assured Antony that all necessary measures would be taken to ensure the safety of Indian nationals in the country. "He also said the persons injured in yesterday's incident would be provided best possible medical assistance until they were fit to be repatriated," an official said.

France, which has around 200 soldiers in CAR as part of 'Operation Boaly', sent in 350 soldiers from Gabon after a weekend coup saw the president of this small African nation, Francois Bozize, flee to Kinshasa after being ousted by an insurgent group called the Seleka coalition. CAR is a former French colony. The leader of Seleka, Michel Djotodia, has been quoted as saying that rebels would respect a peace deal signed in January in the Gabonese capital Libreville, and will organize free and fair elections within three years.

Its not yet clear what the Indians were doing in a truck with Chadian forces. French officials here said they were working for private companies. In the weekend violence, 13 South African soldiers too were killed.

The MEA spokesperson said the Indian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is concurrently accredited to the Central African Republic, is making necessary arrangements for the return of the mortal remains of the Indian nationals in accordance with the desires of their families.

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