Wounded soldiers evacuated to Pretoria

2013-03-25 16:30
 Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke (Picture: AFP)

Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke (Picture: AFP)

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13 SA soldiers killed in CAR

2013-03-25 13:45

President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that 13 South African soldiers have died in fighting in the Central African Republic. Watch.WATCH

Pretoria - Soldiers wounded in a clash with rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been evacuated to Pretoria, SA National Defence Force chief General Solly Shoke told reporters in Pretoria on Monday.

Thirteen South African soldiers were killed and 27 wounded, while another is missing, Shoke said.

All the wounded had been evacuated to 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria and were in a stable condition.

Those only slightly hurt were treated on the scene and were able to carry on with their responsibilities.

He said the rest of the force in CAR was in a good state and receiving all the support they deserved.

"Our troops are still there.until there is a political arrangement. We will be advised.

"Our government will decide to pull out or not. Running away is not an option."

Shoke said the soldiers were engaged in a high-intensity battle that lasted for 13 hours.

"The SANDF fighting force of about 200 members faced a rebel force of more than 3 000 that advanced towards Bangui on two main axes," he said.

"This was a high-tempo battle that took more than 13 hours."

He said the soldiers came under attack from rebels on the outskirts of Bangui on Saturday.

After the battle a truce was agreed.

"The rebels came with a white flag - if someone is carrying a white flag you cannot shoot them," he said.

Shoke said the cease-fire agreement had not been broken in the last 24 hours.

"It is worth mentioning that the rebels apologised for having exchanged fire with the members of the SANDF and indicated that they regret that this had transpired."

He said the South African soldiers were in CAR by way of an agreement between the two countries since 2007.

In December last year, the SANDF deployed a support and protection team to protect the SANDF contingent that had been in CAR for training and capacity building purposes.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Front Plus called for the remaining South African soldiers in the Central African Republic to be brought back home.

"We believe all soldiers should be removed from the area immediately to prevent further loss of life," said Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald in a statement.

He said the government needed to take full responsibility for the deaths incurred.

"It appears as if President Jacob Zuma had without careful consideration decided to deploy defence force members in the CAR without proper logistical and air support for such operations."

Groenewald said without this kind of support, South African troops could not take on peace operations.

"It is therefore not surprising that the tragedy took place and it could be repeated if the government does not drastically intervene."

Read more on:    ff plus  |  sandf  |  solly shoke  |  pieter groenewald  |  central african republic  |  car uprisings  |  military  |  central africa

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