Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

French soldier was alive when found by Sudanese nomads

March 6, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — 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 nomads returned to 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 were trying to recover his body.

The commando, identified by France as a member of the special forces, was reported missing when at least one vehicle from the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in Chad crossed accidentally into Sudan on Monday.

An exchange of fire followed in which a Sudanese soldier and a civilian were killed and another French soldier wounded, but details of the incident are sketchy.

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, and his body was flown to Khartoum overnight.

“They found him dead and tried to carry his body. That’s when the hand grenade exploded, killing four,” Saad said.

Diplomatic officials, who have been in close liaison with the Sudanese authorities, were not unable to provide immediate details on when or how the commando would be repatriated.

“The identification process is going on right now between both sides in Khartoum. Everything has been arranged and we are in close cooperation with the European Union,” Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq told AFP.

“Definitely the body is going to be taken to France because he’s a French citizen,” Sadiq said.

The EU mission announced on Wednesday that the Sudanese authorities had informed the local EU representative in Khartoum that remains discovered near the Chad border were believed to be French member of the peacekeeping force.

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 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 the border.

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.