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Loss of five UN peacekeepers in Timor Leste

Loss of five UN peacekeepers in Timor Leste timely reminder to us all

Minister of Defence Mark Burton is saddened at the news of yesterday’s drowning accident in Timor Leste, which claimed the lives of five United Nations peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea.

“On behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand, I would like to offer my condolences to the families, loved ones, and fellow soldiers of these five brave men.

“This incident reminds us all that UN peacekeepers place themselves in situations which are often dangerous, sometimes with tragic outcomes. It also reminds us of the selfless nature of those who are willing to risk the ultimate sacrifice for the good of others.

“New Zealand, too, lost five of our soldiers in the Timor Leste peacekeeping mission. We are all too aware of the sadness such an accident brings.”

Mark Burton said he had spoken to the Korean Ambassador, and expressed his sympathies on behalf of New Zealand. He has also written to the Minister of Defence in South Korea.

The accident occurred when a vehicle carrying two Korean peacekeepers got stuck crossing a swift-moving river. When three other Korean soldiers from another vehicle tried to assist them, all five were swept away by the strong current.

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