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'He Lies Motionless on the Road': Peacekeeping Soldier Shot in Central African Republic

Posted: 10/12/2013 15:36

Something odd about today. Not least the call from the French military saying all arrangements with journalists to film with them here are cancelled until further notice.

So we left our hotel for the airport this morning a little after 8am.

After a colleague was lucky not to be killed yesterday by a mob - very lucky - we'd decided only to operate on the streets close to French soldiers, very close.

But where were they? All yesterday's roadblocks gone. The big plan to disarm the militias suspended after one day it seemed.

Then came the news. Francois Hollande will visit the Central African Republic (CAR). Or get off a plane, stand at the razor-wired, secured airport, and fly off again.

We felt a little relieved. It was not a security issue on the streets but a presidential visit that was suspending operations.

Just as we digested this information a vehicle crammed with African peacekeeping troops from the UN Fomac operation cut up our vehicle and halted just ahead.

As our cameraman Stuart Webb filmed (see video above) we witnessed them jump out and open fire. There is a large volley of shots before anyone appeared to take up firing positions or cover.

Almost at once one of the soldiers falls, apparently shot, a few metres forward of our position. He lies motionless on the road. Their target appeared to be civilians who had run up a side street from the main airport road.

I detected no incoming fire and in the chaotic way they opened up it is at least possible he either shot himself or was shot by one of his own men.

We got back into the car and reversed at speed to exit back to the hotel.

The Fomac casualty comes as news that two French army peacekeepers have been shot dead. It's not clear where, but they've deployed in only two cities, the northern town of Bossangoa which is reportedly calm, and here in the capital Bangui, which is violent.

This blog post first appeared on the Channel 4 News website here.

See the full report tonight on Channel 4 News at 7pm.

 

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