Three Cambodian peacekeepers missing in action have been found dead following a deadly guerrilla ambush in the Central African Republic, officials confirmed this morning.
The bodies of quality control assistant Seang Norin, 35, excavator driver assistant Mom Tola, 31, and medical staffer Mao Eng, 37, were located and handed over after a negotiation between a church group and the Anti-Balaka terrorist group, said Kosal Malinda, spokesperson for Cambodia’s National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC).
Their bodies were found two kilometres from the site where their compatriot, Im Sam, was killed in an attack on Monday night. Hun Sen, in a speech at Koh Pich commemorating Veteran's Day, confirmed the news of the deaths.
"We do not surrender to any terrorism and we do not surrender to any attack," Hun Sen said.
He added Cambodia could not step back from peacekeeping operations but would instead commit more troops to war-ravaged countries.
He said the three were likely captured in the ambush and killed later. Their bodies were handed over around 10pm Cambodian time last night – around 4pm in the CAR.
“We are waiting for a casualty report…the bodies will be taken to Bangui [the capital] later today,” Malinda said.
A UN press release confirmed a fourth peacekeeper – believed to be a Moroccan – was still missing in action.
During an exchange of fire near the village of Yogofongo, 20 kilometres from Bangassou, Sam and eight Anti-Balaka elements were killed on Monday night, with a number of people wounded on both sides.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSCA, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, extended his “deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of the victims,” and expressed his “immense gratitude for the work and sacrifices of the peacekeepers in the Central African Republic".
This story is being updated as more information emerges.