Killer fugitive legionnaire captured in Chad desert

09/04/2009
Killer fugitive legionnaire captured in Chad desert

A fugitive French foreign legionnaire being hunted by international soldiers after killing four people in Chad was captured Thursday as thirst overcame him, local and French sources said.

The French army chief of staff in Paris said French military authorities had identified the legionnaire -- of French Guyanan origin -- while in Chadian custody."We can confirm that he was arrested in the late morning by Chadian gendarmes in the Abeche region" in north-eastern Chad towards the border with Sudan, Lieutenant Colonel Francois-Marie Gougeon said.

Helicopters and troops from European Union and United Nations peacekeeping missions, as well as local police, had been hunting the man since Tuesday.

The man, described as "deranged" by Captain Christophe Prazuck of the French military high command, killed two legionnaires of Ghanaian and Romanian origin, including his superior, then a Togolese UN soldier inside their military camp.

After fleeing the scene, he then killed a Chadian farmer for his horse, taking flight across semi-desert terrain.

There was no information as to where the man was detained.

A French military source warned on Wednesday that the man was "dangerous because he is armed and he has a psychological problem."

He added that the soldier had been trained in survival techniques for hostile environments.

The 27-year-old private is attached to the European force which is handing over peacekeeping responsibilities to the UN contingent in the north-central African desert state.

UN agencies highly active in the Abeche region, where camps are home to some 450,000 Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians, had ordered local staff to avoid travel because of the risk of running into the renegade.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said the authorities had no explanation for the soldier's killing spree "other than that he flipped."

The minister insisted that the soldier had undergone a series of psychiatric tests before being accepted into the Legion in February 2007 and that none of the examinations had hinted at problems.

But a French officer said the man had gone AWOL on an earlier mission in Djibouti and was tracked in neighbouring Ethiopia.

 

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