French soldier kills four in Chad shooting spree

8th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The soldier had apparently been “seized by a fit of madness” when he opened fire on two comrades, Togolese UN soldier and a farmer.

NDJAMENA – European peacekeepers were hunting Wednesday for a "deranged" French Foreign Legion officer who fled after going on a shooting spree in Chad, killing two comrades, a Togolese UN soldier and a farmer.

The shootings began Tuesday at Camp des Etoiles, the main base of the European peacekeepers near the airport in the eastern town of Abeche near the Sudan border, a French military official said.

"Gunshots were heard in the (military) camp and then the two legionnaires were found and then a little further away the body of the Togolese soldier was discovered," said Captain Christophe Prazuck.

The soldier, an officer he described as "deranged", opened fire around 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) with his service weapon and then fled, Prazuck said.

A Chadian official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the legionnaire shot and killed a civilian about four hours later after the man, a local farmer, resisted the fugitive's attempt to steal his horse.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said he deplored the tragic accident and that the errant soldier had clearly been "seized by a fit of madness”.

"He is being actively sought after by the French gendarmerie, Chadian authorities and the entirety of troops based in Abeche," Morin said.

A Chadian official said a "formidable number" of EU peacekeepers, gendarmes, police had been deployed, stressing that the missing legionnaire was still armed.

The fugitive and the two dead legionnaires were part of a European peacekeeping force, while the Togolese soldier was part of a UN force that will take over operations from the Europeans.

Some 5,200 peacekeepers from the UN's MINURCAT mission are now charged with protecting refugees from Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region, as well as others fleeing a rebel insurgency in Chad and the northern Central African Republic.

But roughly 2,000 members of the European force will remain for a few more months under the UN beret until African and Nepalese units arrive.

A January UN resolution to deploy the UN peacekeepers also extended the mission's mandate to ensure security and protection of civilians in the two countries.

Carjackings, armed robberies and crime targeting national and international humanitarian staff have impeded efforts to help nearly 300,000 refugees and almost 200,000 internally displaced people.

France has an additional 1,100 soldiers in its former colony Chad under a 1986 bilateral accord.

AFP / Expatica

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