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French peacekeeper in Chad goes missing

Latest update : 2008-03-04

A French soldier from the European peacekeeping force in Chad was reported missing after a vehicle strayed into neighbouring Sudan, according to the force.(Report: FRANCE 2/O.Fairclough)

A French soldier with the European peacekeeping force in Chad was reported missing Monday after his vehicle accidentally crossed the border into Sudan, the force said.

"A single soft-skinned Landrover-type vehicle strayed unintentionally three kilometres (two miles) into Sudan" in the Tissi area, southwest of the European force's (EUFOR) area of operations, it said in a statement.

"An attempted recovery of the vehicle was met with hostile fire and they left the area.

"At this time, it can be stated that one EUFOR personnel is currently missing but no further information can immediately be released for operational reasons."

The army headquarters in Paris said the missing soldier was French, adding that another French soldier found in the vehicle was recovered.

The second soldier, lightly wounded, was evacuated by helicopter to Birao field hospital in the Central African Republic.

The 14-nation EUFOR mission of 3,700 troops to Chad and the Central African Republic was deployed last month after a brief delay caused by a rebel attack on the Chad capital Ndjamena.

It has a United Nations mandate to protect refugees from western Sudan's strife-wracked Darfur region as well as people internally displaced by rebel insurgency in Chad and the northern CAR.

At least 200,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and diseases in Darfur since ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated regime in February 2003, resulting in a crackdown by government troops and Janjaweed militias.

More than two million people have been displaced across frontiers or within Sudan itself, according to UN estimates, but the EUFOR mandate for Chad and the CAR strictly concerns protecting refugees and easing relief work in troubled regions.

EUFOR is commanded from France by Irish Major General Pat Nash and in Chad itself by French Brigadier General Jean-Philippe Ganascia, who has expressed hope of getting the force to operational capacity by the end of March.

Date created : 2008-03-04