Source Pravda.Ru

U.N. peacekeeper from Jordan shot to death in Haiti

A U.N. peacekeeper who was shot while on patrol near the volatile Cite Soleil slum of Haiti's capital died Monday at a hospital in neighboring Dominican Republic, a spokesman for the United Nations said.

The peacekeeper was shot in the head Saturday while his patrol was trying to rescue a kidnapped woman, said Lt. Col. El Ouafi Boulbars, the U.N. military spokesman in Haiti.

The peacekeeper was identified as Muhammed Khalaf, a corporal from the Jordanian army. He is one of some 7,600 U.N. troops and police trying to re-establish order ahead of elections to replace the interim government imposed after the February 2004 ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"This tragic death does not alter our determination to make progress in our mission," Boulbars said.

Cite Soleil is the base for armed gangs that U.N. authorities say are loyal to Aristide, who fled the country following a violent rebellion.

The shooting occurred after the patrol intervened as gang members tried to hijack a car, Boulbars said.

The peacekeepers were told by one of the people in the car that the same gang members were holding a woman captive. U.N. troops entered the slum and met with heavy fire from rooftops and alleys, he said.

Khalaf was standing in the armored vehicle and returning fire when he was struck in the head by a bullet, officials said.

"They were shooting to kill," Boulbars said of the gangs. "This is a premeditated crime, they knew exactly who they were targeting and how."

Authorities were trying to determine if the peacekeeper was targeted by a sniper, he said.

The death brought to four the number of peacekeepers killed in clashes since the U.N. mission arrived in June 2004.

Clashes between peacekeepers and pro-Aristide militants are frequent in slums, where gangsters tote M-16s, Uzis and sawed-off shotguns. They have refused to disarm, saying there will be no peace unless Aristide returns from exile in South Africa, AP reported. V.A.