UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council have strongly condemned the attack on a UN base in South Sudan that killed 22 people, including two Indian peacekeepers, and asked the government there to swiftly investigate the "criminal act".
"The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the attack on the UN Mission in South Sudan base in Akobo, JongleiState by armed elements," a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson said adding that the Secretary-General reiterates his call for all parties to exercise restraint and to cease hostilities.
Ban expressed his condolences to the families of the two Indian peacekeepers and the Government of India.
The 15-nation UN Security Council expressed their condolences to the families of the Indian peacekeepers killed in the attack and called on the Government of South Sudan to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
"They also stressed that intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission deployed in accordance with the Charter of the UN, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict, may amount to a crime under international law," Security Council President French Ambassdor Gerard Araud said in a press statement.
Special Representative of the Secretary General Hilde Johnson said he deplores the "unjustified and unwarranted" attack on the United Nations mission base, killing peacekeepers that were "here to protect civilians and serve the people of South Sudan.
"It is a criminal act for which the responsible must be held accountable. Such attacks will not deter us from continuing to discharge our mandate," Johnson said.
The members of the Security Council expressed grave alarm and concern regarding the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan resulting from the political dispute among the country's political leaders which threatens serious implications for the long-term security and stability of South Sudan, as well as for the neighbouring countries.
The Security Council called on President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar to demonstrate leadership in bringing a swift and peaceful resolution to this the crisis by calling for a cessation of hostilities and immediately commencing a dialogue.
In the December 19 attack, two Indian peacekeepers were killed and another was injured while defending the base in Akobo against the assailants and protecting civilians.