EUFOR - Sudan says French soldier was alive when found by nomads
French peacekeeper in Chad was found alive but badly hurt by nomads who were unable to help because of the language barrier.
KHARTOUM, March 6, 2008 - A French peacekeeper in Chad who died after
straying into Sudan was found alive but badly hurt by nomads who were unable
to help because of the language barrier, the Sudanese army said on Thursday.
When the Arab tribesmen again spotted the soldier in a remote part of
war-torn western Darfur, he was dead, and four of them were killed when one of
his grenades exploded as they tried to recover his body.
The commando, identified by France as a member of its special forces, was
reported missing when at least one vehicle from the European Union
peacekeeping mission in Chad accidentally crossed into Sudan on Monday.
His identity was not being disclosed until his remains can be formally
A deadly exchange of fire followed in which another French soldier was also
wounded, but details of the incident are sketchy.
The army initially reported that one Sudanese civilian and a soldier were
killed in the clashes. On Thursday, however, a spokesman said five civilians
died and eight people were wounded, including two soldiers.
Arab nomads who roam the remote part of Darfur across the the border from
Chad first spotted the badly wounded soldier on Monday, but only told the army
later they had been unable to help because of the language barrier.
"He was alive and walking, but seriously wounded," Sudanese army spokesman
Lieutenant Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad told AFP. "They tried to help him
but there was a problem with language."
His body was found by nomads on Wednesday about four kilometres (three
miles) west of the village of Abu Jaradil, Saad said.
"They found him dead and tried to carry his body. That's when the hand
grenade exploded, killing four," Saad said.
The soldier's remains were flown to Khartoum overnight.
European diplomats, who have been in close liaison with Sudanese
authorities, said preparations were underway to organise a repatriation
ceremony on Friday before flying the body to France.
The EUFOR mission in Chad has put a medical-legal team on standby to go
identify the remains of the soldier. A European diplomat in Khartoum said the
delegation was scheduled to arrive on Thursday.
The Sudanese foreign ministry said the identification process was ongoing
and stressed its willingness to cooperate fully with the European Union.
"The body is going to be taken to France because he's a French citizen,"
ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq said.
EUFOR's Irish commander, Lieutenant General Patrick Nash, had appealed for
Sudanese assistance in the search for the missing soldier, while expressing
regret for an "inadvertent crossing" of the border.
He said EUFOR "carries out its mandate in full respect of the sovereignty
of the Sudanese border". Sudan ordered its armed forces to search for the
soldier after warning EUFOR it had no mandate to cross into Sudanese territory.
EUFOR has a UN 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 Central African Republic.
A vanguard of the 14-nation mission of 3,700 troops deployed to Chad and
the Central African Republic last month. Of that total 2,000 will be French.