Slain French officer tried to calm Kosovo comrade

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Apr 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) Peacekeeping officials said on Saturday a French officer killed by one of his own men in Kosovo had been trying to calm the "unstable" soldier when the shooting occurred.

A spokesman for the mainly French peacekeeping troops in the troubled northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica named the victim as Gilles Raymond, a 29-year-old first lieutenant in the Third Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment.

His body was due to be flown back to France on Saturday. A 20-year-old fellow-soldier arrested after the shooting on Thursday evening had already been flown home and was under medical supervision, the spokesman said.

Raymond, a bachelor who had arrived for a tour of duty in Kosovo only 10 days earlier, had noticed "unstable behavior" by the young soldier and invited him to step outside a barracks building in Mitrovica to discuss the matter, the spokesman said.

During their conversation the junior soldier, a specialist marksman, drew his gun and shot Raymond three times in the body and once in the arm. The man did not resist arrest.

The case was believed to be the first time a KFOR soldier had been detained for the killing of another member of the peacekeeping force since it was deployed last June after NATO bombing drove Serbian security forces out of Kosovo.

Military officials said they could not identify the arrested soldier or give further details because a judicial investigation had been launched.

France's contingent in the NATO-dominated KFOR force has one of the toughest peacekeeping tasks in Kosovo.

Ethnically divided Mitrovica has been the scene of clashes involving Serbs, ethnic Albanians and peacekeepers. Over the past couple of months alone, around a dozen people have been killed and scores have been wounded, including French soldiers.

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