22 March 2005

Secretary-General Saddened by Death of Two Peacekeepers in Haiti, Says UN Remains fully Committed after Cowardly Attacks

NEW YORK, 21 March (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of two United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti yesterday, 20 March.  One soldier from Sri Lanka and one from Nepal were killed while carrying out their duties in two separate incidents, while three other soldiers from Sri Lanka were wounded.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) launched a jointly planned operation with the Haitian National Police in Petit Goâve (southwest of Port-au-Prince) in order to dislodge armed elements who had illegally occupied the local police station since last August.  After sustained exchanges of fire, one Sri Lankan soldier was killed and three others wounded, while two armed elements were killed and 12 injured.  MINUSTAH was able to gain control of the police station as a result of the operation.

Later on 20 March, in a separate incident, while manning a checkpoint on the road between Mirebalais and Terre Rouge (in the centre of Haiti), Nepalese military were fired on indiscriminately by armed groups using women and children as shields.  One Nepalese soldier was killed.  During a follow-up operation by MINUSTAH this morning, the Mission was able to retake the police station in Terre Rouge, which had also been illegally occupied by armed elements for some time.

The Secretary-General is outraged that armed groups are using civilians as human shields and by these cowardly attacks on international peacekeeping personnel who are mandated to ensure a secure and stable environment in Haiti in accordance with Resolution 1542 (2004).  MINUSTAH remains fully committed to the implementation of its mandate to improve the security situation in furtherance of the constitutional political process.

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