Sierra Leone: death of 6 in ammo blast shows perils of peacekeeping -- Annan

Sierra Leone: death of 6 in ammo blast shows perils of peacekeeping -- Annan

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today reacted with sadness to Saturday’s accidental death of six peacekeepers in Sierra Leone over the weekend – an event which he said called attention to the perilous aspects of their work.

“This tragic incident underscores the acute dangers associated with peacekeeping,” a spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement released in response to news of the accident caused by an explosion of ammunitions that had earlier been surrendered by former combatants in Sierra Leone’s civil war.

The spokesman said that Mr. Annan expressed his “continued appreciation for the commitment and dedication of United Nations personnel serving in missions across the world.” In particular, he commended personnel of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone “who responded to this accident in an exemplary manner.”

“The Secretary-General deeply regrets the deaths of these Zambian peacekeepers and extends his sincere condolences to their families,” the statement said.

The explosion, which also wounded a dozen peacekeepers, is currently being investigated, according to the UN Mission, known as UNAMSIL.

The Mission reported on Saturday that two of its MI-8 helicopters were deployed to Tongo to airlift the injured to Choithram Hospital in Freetown for treatment.