NEW DELHI (AFP) — The Indian army said Wednesday that it was investigating UN allegations its troops had engaged in sexual abuse while on peacekeeping duties in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A UN statement on Tuesday said a probe had "revealed prima facie evidence" that the soldiers may have engaged in sexual exploitation and abuse.
One anonymous UN official said the case involved abuse of young girls and boys by at least 100 Indian peacekeepers over several years.
India responded to the statement saying its own probe was already underway and that the army vice-chief had visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in May to look into the allegations.
"Our inquiry is being reviewed by higher authorities and will also accommodate the findings of the UN," army spokesman A.K Mathur told AFP.
India pledged that the allegations would "be promptly and thoroughly investigated and, if proven, strict and exemplary action would be taken," the earlier UN statement said.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply troubled" by the allegations.
Local sources in the DRC told AFP earlier this year that the probe focused on an alleged child prostitution ring in Masisi, northwest of North Kivu province's capital, Goma.
India, along with Pakistan, is one of the leading troop contributors to UN peacekeeping.
Indian soldiers have also been accused of trafficking in gold in DRC, while Pakistani troops have been accused of trading guns with militia they were meant to be disarming.
The vast central African country is recovering from a 1998-2003 civil war in which millions of people are believed to have died.
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