Diplomatic convoy accidentally hits boy in Cameroon | News | DW | 19.04.2016
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Diplomatic convoy accidentally hits boy in Cameroon

A diplomatic convoy carrying the visiting US ambassador to the United Nations accidentally struck and killed a young boy in Cameroon. The officials were in the region to support local authorities fighting Boko Haram.

US diplomat Samantha Power told a news conference Monday that a vehicle in her convoy had hit a young pedestrian.

"As we, the United Nations, and Cameroonian officials drove to Mokolo this morning, a vehicle in the convoy that we were a part of struck a young boy," Power told a news conference in Maroua, northern Cameroon. "Although he received immediate medical care from an ambulance in our convoy, he died shortly thereafter."

Power said she met with the child's family to personally convey her condolences but US officials would not say whether compensation was offered.

Samantha Power talks with women and children in Cameroon

US diplomat Samantha Power met people who had fled Boko Haram

Officials from USAID, the Pentagon and the UN are in Cameroon as part of Washington's effort to support local authorities in their fight against the extremist group Boko Haram.

The Islamist militants have killed an estimated 20,000 people and forced some 2.6 million to flee their homes in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Power, the US ambassador to the UN, said at a news conference that force alone would not rid the region of Boko Haram.

"Of course, military force has to be part of it. They have guns, they have suicide vests, they have armored vehicles - they have those things, and we will fight them," she said. "But we also have to ensure that as we take the fight to Boko Haram with us supporting you, that we do so in a manner that respects the lives of civilians."

Details of tragic collision

The fatality occurred near the small city of Mokolo, in northern Cameroon, where Power, her aides and accompanying journalists were headed to meet refugees and others displaced by Boko Haram.

US officials said the motorcade was traveling quickly through an unsecured area and at times exceeding 60 mph (96 km/h) while villagers lined up along the sides of the road to watch the procession.

But when the boy darted onto the two-lane highway, there was no time for the Cameroonian driver in Power's convoy to react, witnesses said. At the moment of impact, a man could be seen running up the embankment, with his arms held high, to the street to try to stop the boy who was not identified, the Associated Press reported.

The vehicle that hit the boy initially stopped, but was ordered by the US security detail to continue onward and an ambulance in the convoy stopped and took the child to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Several US officials were visibly affected, with one Power aide turning away to cry as his boss met with refugee children shortly afterward, AP reported. The motorcade reportedly moved at a significantly slower pace for the rest of the day.

jar/se (AP, AFP)

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