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Sarkozy condemns Sudan over French soldier death

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March 7, 2008 (PARIS) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned on Friday what he called the "deliberate and disproportionate" use of force by Sudan in the killing of a French soldier serving with European Union forces in Chad.

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President Nicolas Sarkozy

France’s defence ministry said that a body found by Sudanese authorities near the Chad border was identified by French officials in Khartoum as that of a special forces sergeant who went missing after a clash with Sudanese troops on Monday.

The soldier was killed and another was wounded after they accidentally crossed from Chad into Sudan, in a remote region near the Chad, Sudan and Central African Republic frontiers. The wounded man rejoined EU forces.

The death was the first fatal casualty in the EU military force which is still being deployed in eastern Chad. More than half of its members are being provided by France.

French presidential spokesman David Martinon said Sarkozy had asked Sudan "to take all necessary measures" to prevent a repeat of the incident. He said Sarkozy condemned "with all possible firmness the deliberate and disproportionate use of force" by Sudanese troops against the EU force and "requested full clarification of the circumstances of this tragedy."

French and EU officials had previously apologised for the fact that the EU patrol had crossed the border into Sudan.

Martinon said the European security force in Chad (EUFOR) was conducting a "humanitarian protection mission to help the refugee population of Darfur and the displaced Chadian population".

The defence ministry in Paris said the soldiers who strayed across the border encountered a Sudanese checkpoint and quickly declared their identity, but were fired on without warning.

Sudan, however, said that a military jeep that entered from Chad was carrying six French soldiers who opened fire on a Sudanese army position.

It says five civilians were killed and two Sudanese soldiers and four civilians were wounded in the clash.

(Reuters)

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