Sequel to gunning down of 2 Indians by French forces; Hollande expresses regret
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is here for the BRICS Summit, has directed that all efforts be made to ensure the safety of about 100 Indians in the Central African Republic (CAR), mainly in and around its capital, after French forces shot dead two Indian nationals. The dead were among 15 Indians travelling in three cars with some Chad nationals.
In a letter that reached Dr. Singh here, followed by a phone call, French President Francois Hollande expressed regret for the incident in which six Indians were seriously injured at Bangui Airport. CAR has been overrun by a rebel group in the ongoing civil war.
According to reports, French troops, trying to protect their country’s interests after the fleeing of CAR President Francois Bozize, fired at the vehicles killing the two Indians. The six seriously injured Indians have been shifted to a French military hospital in Chad while the other seven are now in Brazzaville where India’s Honorary Consul General is making arrangements to send them back to India in a day or two.
While conveying his condolences, Mr. Hollande assured the Prime Minister of his “firm determination” to investigate the incident and assured that the injured were under the care of French medical teams.
The Indian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is concurrently accredited to CAR, is making the necessary arrangements for the return of the mortal remains of the Indian nationals in accordance with the desires of their next of kin.
According to the French, its forces in charge of protecting the Bangui airport, intervened in a “particularly confusing situation” against three vehicles threatening to penetrate it, at a time when their forces had just been fired at from an “unknown source.”
Despite warning shots fired by the guarding forces, the vehicles continued to proceed at high speed, they said. The French forces immediately took care of the injured Indian and Chadians nationals, who were taken to a medical unit (they were then shifted to Chad).
French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian also spoke to his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony. France has substantial defence business at hand with India. When Mr. Hollande visited India recently, the French side insisted and got incorporated in the joint communiqué a commitment from India to select its companies shortlisted for lucrative defence and civil nuclear energy contracts.