NEW DELHI, March 18: Three Indian Army officers deputed to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Congo have been accused of rape, The Indian Express said on Tuesday.

It said a lieutenant colonel and two majors of the Indian Army, seconded to the North Kivu brigade of the Mission of the UN in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monuc), were detained last Wednesday by South African police after a woman resident of Plettenberg Bay in Pretoria charged them with rape.

“They were away from Monuc headquarters in Kinshasa on a holiday to Pretoria,” the newspaper said, adding that it was the first time Indian officers on UN mission were accused of rape. India, it said, has the largest contingent in Monuc with more than 4,300 personnel.

Indian security personnel are part of peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Ethiopia and Lebanon.

The three officers were picked up from a hotel in Mossel Bay on March 12 and kept in police custody for more than a day, according to the Express report. It quoted unnamed sources as saying that the incident was first reported to New Delhi during a meeting with a South African delegation on defence cooperation last week.

An officer from the Indian Embassy in Johannesburg was rushed to Plettenberg and the three were released from the police station.

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony has asked for a report on the incident on how the officers managed to go to the “unsecured place” while on assignment with the UN.

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