U.N. peacekeeper kills Eritrean civilian at post on Ethiopian border

The Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia A U.N. peacekeeper shot and killed an Eritrean civilian close to the border with Ethiopia, which the peacekeepers patrol, officials said Thursday.
The unidentified man was killed Saturday in the western Eritrean border town of Barentu after illegally entering a U.N. border post with a friend, refusing to heed warnings to leave and trying to attack a sentry, the U.N. said in a statement.
Eritrean officials said they were investigating the incident.
It is the first time an Eritrean has been killed by U.N. peacekeepers since they were deployed to the region in early 2001 after a bloody war with Ethiopia ended, officials said.
"Repeated calls by the sentry for the intruders to vacate the premises were not heeded," said a statement by the U.N.'s Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
"At some point, one of the intruders tried to attack the sentry, who fired shots to scare off the assailants. Unfortunately, one of the intruders was hit," it added.
"UNMEE deeply regrets this tragic loss of life and extends its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and to the Eritrean authorities," the statement said.
The U.N. said it would cooperate with the Eritrean authorities in any investigation, but declined to comment further or whether the Eritreans were armed.
Eritrea insisted that whatever the details of the incident, the man should not have been shot.
"The U.N.'s mission is to keep peace not to kill people," Eritrea's information minister Ali Abdu told The Associated Press by telephone from the capital Asmara.
"These people will be held accountable for the crime they have committed according to the law. You have to keep in mind this was a civilian."
Tensions along the border have increased since the U.N. accused Eritrea on Oct. 16 of moving 1,500 troops and 14 tanks into a buffer zone established after their 2 1/2-year border war. A day later the U.N. Security Council called on Eritrea to pull out its forces from the zone.

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