Updated: Three Missing Cambodian Peacekeepers Found Dead in CAR

Three U.N. peacekeepers from Cambodia reported missing following an ambush in the Central African Republic (CAR) were found dead about 2 km from the original fighting, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced today.

“We officially confirmed that our soldiers were killed and their bodies were found already,” Mr. Hun Sen told an audience commemorating the 10th Cambodian Veterans Day on Koh Pich island in Phnom Penh.

Peacekeepers salute during a ceremony at the Kompong Cham Military Air Base in October 2014, ahead of a yearlong mission to the Central African Republic. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The bodies were found about 2 km from the first fighting area so our brothers would have been caught and later killed,” the premier said.

The three soldiers confirmed dead were warrant officer Seang Norint, assistant warrant officer Mom Tola and medical staffer Mao Eng, Mr. Hun Sen said. Another Cambodian peacekeeper, driver Thuch Thim, sustained injuries to his left arm, he said.

A fourth peacekeeper, Im Sam, was confirmed dead yesterday, according to a statement released by the National Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW Clearance (NPMEC).

The attackers on Monday were trying to free comrades who had been detained by Moroccan forces working with Cambodian troops, the NPMEC said.

The prime minister said he did not blame the U.N. for the peacekeepers’ deaths, but said Cambodia would send a group from the National Defense Ministry to CAR to investigate the attack.

The Cambodian contingent was an engineering force, not a fighting force, he said.

“If they were a fighting force, such an incident would not occur like that because those forces are engineering forces for clearing mines and also for building roads to the airport,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

The premier also condemned those who posted photographs of one of the slain Cambodians, saying they would not be forgiven.

Ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche wrote in a Facebook post yesterday that a captain had been beheaded by rebels, but that was later thrown into doubt and the post was edited to remove the reference to the alleged beheading.

Mr. Hun Sen said that despite the loss of life, Cambodia was proud of its peacekeeping efforts in CAR and would continue sending peacekeepers abroad.

“We do not surrender to terrorism and any kind of violence,” he said.

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