French aid worker killed in Chad
PARIS (AP) — Gunmen opened fire on a convoy Thursday in eastern Chad near the Sudanese border, killing a French aid worker, an aid organization said.
Pascal Marlinge, who worked for Save The Children in Britain, was in a three-vehicle convoy when it was stopped by a group of armed men, the organization said.
"A shot, or shots, were fired by a group of armed men and Mr. Marlinge was killed," the aid group said in a statement.
An aide to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the killers were "likely bandits ... who, it appears, intercepted a convoy of three humanitarian vehicles," one carrying Marlinge. Four other aid workers were unhurt.
"It is sadly simple, unfortunately," said Eric Chevalier on France-Info radio.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes called the killing "an inexcusable crime." He warned it was likely to exacerbate already difficult conditions in Chad for humanitarian workers trying to help refugees from Sudan's Darfur region and uprooted Chadians.
Kouchner also denounced the killing of Marlinge — the second French citizen killed in the region in two months — as an "ignoble act of barbarity." He asked Chadian authorities to shed light on the circumstances of the killing.
Save the Children said it was suspending its work in Chad.
The U.N. said the attack was the second targeting of a humanitarian worker in Chad in less than a year.
Gunmen shot and killed a driver working for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in late 2007, and in March, a French peacekeeper working with a European force in eastern Chad was shot to death by Sudanese soldiers when his vehicle strayed across the badly marked border.
Eastern Chad has become a zone of uprooted refugees from Sudan's Darfur region spilling across the border. Displaced Chadians, humanitarian groups and EU peacekeepers work in the tense area, and Sudan has been hostile to the peacekeeping mission, which has not yet fully deployed.
France has found itself deeply engaged this year in Chad, its former colony. Besides contributing to the EUFOR peacekeeping mission, French soldiers were deployed during a brief but tense effort by Chadian rebels to seize the presidential palace.
A failed bid by a French aid group, Zoe's Ark, to bring 103 children, allegedly orphans from Darfur, to France ended in scandal and recrimination that translated into distrust among many Chadians for all aid groups