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French army didn’t fire warning shots,say CAR survivors

For the six injured Indians who survived the March 25 firing by the French troops in the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR),it was sheer miracle

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi |
April 17, 2013 12:48:40 am

For the six injured Indians who survived the March 25 firing by the French troops in the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR),it was sheer miracle. They were flown back to Delhi on April 14 by the Ministry of External Affairs and admitted to the AIIMS trauma centre. One person,Krishnayya Mogaveera from Mangalore,had died in the incident.

One of the injured,Bharat Menghani,20,had spent only 10 days in capital Bangui when the Seleka rebels attacked the President’s palace. “It is a miracle we got out alive from the firing. My family can’t believe that so soon after I got an internal transfer to Bangui,this what life had in store,” said Menghani,who hails from Ajmer,Rajasthan.

The six injured were part of the 14 Indians,who were working two pharma firms and a travel agency,and were fired at while being escorted by the French police in two van to the airport in Bangui. Two of the injured were discharged on Monday evening. The remaining four work with the Vahe Guru Travel Agency. They said that contrary to reports there was no warning fire by the French troops.

“The firing started all of a sudden and in its impact I fell out of the van,” said Bharat Nevhwani,23,a native of Lucknow. Another injured,Chandra Kumar Kautuk,21,from Jaipur,said he did not hear any warning fire. “It was so sudden that it took us a while to realise that we are being fired at,” he said. Kautuk said the firing went on intermittently for about 40 minutes.

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“The first round of firing went on for about five minutes. Then,whenever we tried to get up or the French police tried to yell out to their army that they were escorting Indian civilians,the firing would begin again,” Kumar said.

Eyewitnesses said the firing stopped when reinforcements arrived from the police headquarters. “When they saw that the army did not show any signs of holding fire,they called their headquarters,” said another injured Amit Popat,26,who hails from Jamnagar,Gujarat.

He said after the firing ceased the army send an ambulance and another vehicle with a videographer. “They videoed us lying like that and spoke to the police,” he said.

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All the injured were then taken to a health camp and later shifted to a military hospital,where they were operated upon. Eyewitnesses said all the occupants except three in the first van fell out of the van. “One other who fell out got hit by a bullet in his arm and this same bullet struck Mogaveera in the head,” Menghani said. Menghani said the French Ambassador who visited AIIMS on Monday was the first French representative who apologised to the injured survivors. All the four said they have not heard about any promise of compensation for them or for their deceased colleague.

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First published on: 17-04-2013 at 12:48:40 am

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