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Two Belgian Eufor vehicles burned, De Crem confirms and balances…

(BRUSSELS2) (updated Tuesday February 10) The Belgian Minister of Defense, Pieter De Crem (CD&V – Flemish Christian Democrats), confirmed before the Belgian Chamber of Deputies the indirect destruction of two EUFOR vehicles following an attack by Sudanese helicopters in mid-November. Information published on this blog (and coming from the UN but I did not have the nationality of the vehicles and certain details).

Responding to a question from a deputy, Denis Ducarme (from the Liberal Reform Movement), the minister specified: “On November 17, 2008, a EUFOR patrol was overflown by two Sudanese combat helicopters, in Chadian territory, 1200 meters from the border with Sudan. The EUFOR patrol, clearly identified with “EUFOR” markings and orange “high visibility” marking signs, was stationary. She was in this region as part of her protection mandate following recent incidents involving civilian populations. Sudanese helicopters fired several rockets towards the vehicles, without hitting them, but setting the vegetation on fire. The patrol did not return fire. There were no injuries, but both vehicles were destroyed by the spreading fire. »  These vehicles belonged to the special forces (of the SPG based in Flawinne, equipped with Unimogs and jeeps) responsible for providing intelligence information.

The commitments of certain States not kept 100%!

The Minister of Defense remarked, in passing, that " Paradoxically, this humanitarian operation in Chad turns out to be very dangerous. "and criticized" certain commitments from other European countries (which) have not been 100% fulfilled. » In my opinion, this criticism can be aimed at Sweden in particular which had special forces on site at the start of the operation as well as France (*). “Our main role was to build the camp. The decision I made to send 25 men from the “special forces” and the circumstances meant that the weight of the operation now rests on them and no longer on those who were supposed to lead this operation at the start. »

A little comment

It's quite original that this type of information should go around the planet, via New York and Dublin (it's an interview with General Nash in the Irish Times which alerted the Belgian deputies). Is this a “hiccup” not only in the communication of the Belgian Minister but also of the Eufor operation itself? I would rather say a certain caution, concerning this incident clearly implicating Sudan. While relations between this country and Chad were improving, there was no political question of being able to fuel a possible quarrel, of “adding fuel to the fire”. Especially since the border in the region is “fluctuating” to say the least. According to a field expert, there is “there is in fact no well-defined physical landmark (as in Europe) and the assessment of the border limit differs depending on the country”. Please note that this incident is not the first. As our Irish colleagues report, Sudanese planes regularly come to carry out reconnaissance flights near the border (Chad shelters the rebel forces in power in Khartoum). And we remember that a French special forces man died at the start of the operation (read: First death in operation for Eufor).


(*) A questioning which may seem unfair because these two countries have fulfilled the missions which had been entrusted to them within the times indicated and according to the
principle of the rotation of forces.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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