French aid worker murdered in Chad
The man, a member of Save the Children charity, was killed by a group of armed men as he was driving in a convoy.2 May 2008
NDJAMENA - Highwaymen shot dead a French aid worker Thursday in Chad's war-stricken eastern region, his employer said Thursday, in what France's foreign minister branded a "barbaric" attack.
Pascal Marlinge, 49, a member of the London-based charity Save the Children, was killed by a group of armed men as he was driving in a convoy, said a statement from the organisation.
Chadian government spokesman Mahamat Hissene said it promised "to deploy all material and human means to catch the perpetrators of this cowardly murder."
France's Foreign Minister Kouchner said in a separate statement that Marlinge was "savagely murdered" while working with displaced people and refugees in the town of Farchana in eastern Chad.
"This is a vile and barbaric act. I ask the Chadian authorities to shed full light" on the incident, he said.
Marlinge's body will be brought to Ndjamena, a spokeswoman for the UN body UNICEF told AFP.
Save the Children said it believed that Marlinge was in a three-car convoy with two vehicles from another humanitarian agency, driving from Farchana to Hajir Hadid, close to the Sudanese border.
"Our information is that at about 10:15 am the convoy was stopped by a group of armed men. A shot, or shots, were fired and Mr Marlinge was killed. The four other humanitarian workers were unhurt," it said.
European peacekeeping forces patrolling the region came on the scene soon after and set off to try and catch the killers, Jean Axelos, an officer with the force, told AFP by telephone.
Marlinge has a wife and a teenage daughter, both living in France, who have been informed of his death, the charity added.
"Our thoughts are with Pascal's family at this time," said Save the Children UK chief executive Jasmine Whitbread.
"Staff in the UK and in Chad are profoundly shocked and upset. Pascal was loved and respected by all colleagues who have worked with him."
The charity has suspended all work in Chad until further notice and has sent a team to assist in the investigation.
"We have stopped operations, but we haven't physically withdrawn from the country," Save the Children spokesman Dominic Nutt told AFP in London.
"It's until we understand better what the security situation is. We have a team in the air now who will be landing in the country soon to carry out an investigation. We need to ascertain what the situation is, why this happened.
Hopefully, we will be restart our work as soon as possible."
He said it was unlikely that the charity would physically withdraw staff from the country, describing it as a "hypothetical possibility".
A total of 3,700 European Union troops is due to be fully operational by the end of June in Chad and the Central African Republic.
[AFP / Expatica]