Weapons to be given to troops in South Sudan

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Weapons to be given to troops in South Sudan

The Korean government will provide additional weapons and ammunition to the national Army deployed to South Sudan amid escalating violence in the African country.

“So far, we saw no particular event happening in our Army, but to prevent a worst-case scenario, we will supply firearms and ammunition,” a South Korean official from the Ministry of Defense told reporters yesterday. “Food and drinks for the Army are sufficient now, but it is part of our efforts to reinforce their self-defense, as the unit is comprised of military engineers.”

The Army will borrow ammunition from the U.S. Africa Command and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces before the Korean Air Force sends a military transport plane equipped with the weapons.

“The Army already received 1,600 rounds of 7.62-millimeter ammunition and 3,400 rounds of 5.56-millimeter ammunition on Dec. 22 from the U.S. command, as well as 10,000 rounds of 5.56 millimeter from the Japanese forces,” the official said. “We will return all of the borrowed ammunition when additional supplies arrive.”

Made up of about 280 soldiers, the Korean Army’s Hanbit unit was dispatched in March on a humanitarian mission to South Sudan as part of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. The soldiers, who are mostly medical corps or military engineers, are primarily focused on reconstruction efforts in the conflict-ravaged country. They have minimal ammunition and personal arms.

“The Hanbit Unit is currently stationed in the same international unit with those sent from India and Nepal,” the official said. “The Indian and the Nepalese units have their armored vehicles, but we also need to be independently armed.”

The official added that the Korean Air Forces’ C-130 aircraft will transport the additional supplies to the unit. Details on further supplies are confidential, the official said.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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