The United Nations News Service reports seven peacekeepers and nine locals were killed in an attack in southwest Ivory Coast. The attack happened Friday when the peacekeepers were out on patrol in Para village.
Secretary General calls for accountability: Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon read a statement at U.N. Headquarters on Friday. "I call on the government of Cote d'Ivoire to do its utmost to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable for this deadly attack," Ban said. "My heart goes out to the families at this difficult time, and I express my deepest sympathy to the government of Niger for this tragedy."
Peacekeepers ambushed by militia: The Associated Press reports while villagers were fleeing near the Liberian border, the peacekeepers were rushing to try to protect them. But the suspected Liberian militia ambushed them instead. There are another 40 peacekeepers trying to protect locals and they are in danger. The village of Tai is expected to see around 4,000 people who are on their way there, a spokeswoman for the United Nations' humanitarian coordination office, OCHA said.
UNOCI vows to take "required measures:" The peacekeepers were reported to be from Niger. They were part of the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire, a group responsible for enabling the 2003 peace agreement to be honored between various parties in the Ivorian civil war. UNOCI was kept on the ground after the 2010 presidential election and military and political crisis that followed.
In a statement, the group said it would "take all the required measures following this severe violation of international law." The United Nations Security Council also issued a =statement noting the members "expressed their deep concern at the prevailing insecurity in western Cote d'Ivoire and the border area, and continued cross-border movements of armed elements, including militias and mercenaries."
Ivory Coast suggests Liberian connection: Reuters reported the peacekeepers, eight civilians and at least one soldier were killed by possible militia forces that crossed over from neighboring Liberia. The countries have good relations and have gone on joint cross-border missions before. But Defense Minister Paul Koffi Koffi made clear more must be done about the border incursions.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.