KHARTOUM, March 6, 2008 – Sudan confirmed Wednesday it had found the
body of a French EU peacekeeper missing after deadly clashes with Sudanese
troops just inside the border from Chad and were flying the corpse to Khartoum.
"We can confirm the missing soldier has been found dead close to the common
border between Chad and Sudan," foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq said.
"His body should arrive in Khartoum this evening and we will cooperate to
the maximum (with arrangements for its repatriation)," the spokesman added,
referring all other queries to the French embassy.
The French commando vanished in war-torn Darfur on Monday when at least one
vehicle from the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in Chad crossed into
An exchange of fire followed in which a Sudanese soldier and a civilian
were killed and a French soldier wounded, but details on the clash remain
The EU mission announced that the Sudanese authorities had informed the
local EU representative in Khartoum that remains discovered near the Chadian
border are believed to be that of a French member of the peacekeeping force.
"The arrangements for the formal identification and recovery of the remains
are currently being organised," said EUFOR from its headquarters near Paris.
A European diplomat in Khartoum confirmed a body had been found and would
be repatriated, but could not say whether it was the Frenchman or not, pending
the next-of-kin being informed.
"Of course I confirm that we have received information (about the body) and
that we are working in liaison with the Sudanese authorities to organise the
body’s repatriation," the diplomat said, asking not to be named.
Sudan ordered its armed forces to search for the missing soldier after
warning EUFOR it had no mandate to cross the border into Sudanese territory.
EUFOR commander, Lieutenant General Patrick Nash of Ireland, had appealed
for Sudanese assistance in the search for the missing soldier, while
expressing regret for an "inadvertent crossing" of the border.
He said that EUFOR "carries out its mandate in full respect of the
sovereignty of the Sudanese border".
The deployment of the force remains unaffected, he stressed.
The 14-nation EUFOR mission of 3,700 troops began deploying to Chad and the
Central African Republic last month after a delay caused by a rebel assault on
the Chadian capital.
Of that total 2,000 will be French troops. So far some 700 have been
deployed as the force builds up its strength.
Last month, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the head of UN peacekeeping operations,
warned that violence between Sudan and Chad fought out by rebel groups on each
side threatened to destabilise the region and could lead to a regional war.
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.