New Delhi: The external affairs ministry is leading an operation to evacuate 600 Indian nationals stranded in Juba, South Sudan, where a week-long civil war has claimed several lives.
According to The Hindu, the mission, tentatively titled Operation Sankat Mochan, began at 5 am on Thursday, with two C-17 heavy-lift aircraft leaving New Delhi for Juba.
The mission is being led by minister of state for external affairs General V.K. Singh.
The Indian embassy in Juba said the aircraft were expected to land at 11 am local time and Indian nationals with valid travel documents will be allowed to board flights to New Delhi.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said Singh would be accompanied by Amar Sinha, economic relations secretary at the foreign ministry, joint secretary Satbir Singh and director Anjani Kumar.
On July 11, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir ordered a ceasefire after days of heavy fighting between government troops and forces loyal to Vice President Riek Machar.
Kiir and Machar directed all commanders to cease hostilities, control their forces and protect civilians, information minister Michael Makuei said in a televised speech on the state broadcaster SSTV.
The latest bout of violence began after a localised gunfight outside Kiir’s residence in Juba on July 7 while he was holding a meeting with Machar.