Three Cambodian peacekeepers who had been taken captive were found dead on Tuesday in the Central African Republic after a fourth colleague was shot dead in an attack that is still being investigated, according to a Cambodian official.
“The other three were found dead last night,” said Malinda Kosal, spokeswoman for the U.N.’s National Center for Peacekeeping Forces in Cambodia.
She said the three were found about 2 km from the location of the initial attack, in which Im Sam, a bulldozer driver, was killed. The National Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW Clearance released a statement on Tuesday night naming the three other peacekeepers as Seang Norint, Mom Tola, and Mao Eng.
Ms. Kosal said the three were found by a group of “church people” who were encouraged by local ministers to join in the search effort.
The deaths mark the first time that Cambodian peacekeepers have been murdered on peacekeeping missions, with previous deaths caused by malaria, food poisoning and severe weather.
Responding to reports of Im Sam’s death on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Hun Sen offered his condolences to the soldier’s family, adding that he hoped the other three who had been kidnapped could be freed.
“The goal of their attack is to liberate captives and it’s located near the place where our forces had stayed,” the prime minister said, according to The Cambodia Daily. “So if I can estimate, I think that they may require an exchange between their captives with our soldiers.”