200 Lankan troops for peacekeeping in MaliView(s):
Some 200 Sri Lanka Army personnel will leave for the West African nation of Mali next month to join the United Nations Peace Keeping troops in that country, a senior Army official said yesterday.
Military spokesperson Roshan Seneviratne told the Sunday Times that contingent was engaged in field training exercises in Kankesanthurai and Sooriyawewa.
The troops wearing blue helmets and arm bands were seen marching towards Sooriyawewa in the South with military tanks painted white.
According to the Army, the field training exercises have been designed to match the ground realities and challenges in Mali. The contingent includes a Combat Convoy Company (CCC) of 15 officers and 185 other rankers.
Brigadier Seneviratne said soldiers who were selected to this programme had undergone a vetting process in keeping with UN requirements. This was not the first time Sri Lanka was taking part in a UN peace keeping initiative, he said dismissing allegations in certain quarters that Sri Lankan forces had committed human rights violations during the last stages of the war here.
In September last year, the Sunday Times reported exclusively that the UN invited a battalion of officers and staff from Sri Lanka Army to join its peacekeeping initiatives at a time when UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was calling for a probe on war crimes charges against Sri Lankan troops.
The Sri Lankan troops will be deployed to assist the ongoing United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to support the political process there and carry out a number of security-related tasks.