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CAB024 / Zambia / AMESP EMPLOYEE KILLED IN MILITIA HIJACKING

AMESP EMPLOYEE KILLED IN MILITIA HIJACKING

¶1. (U) SUMMARY: An AMESP employee was killed during a hijacking of a food shipment in Western Zambia. Local authorities have yet to identify the militia responsible or the location of the missing shipment. END SUMMARY.

HIJACKING
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¶2. (U) On May 8th, at approximately 3:45 PM, a caravan carrying shipments of food, supplies, and medicine was run off the road by three trucks of armed men. According to witness statements, an employee with AMESP confronted the men and, after a brief argument, was shot and killed. The bandits escaped with the shipments, leaving the remaining employees unharmed. The shipment’s original destination was a refugee camp in Nangweshi.

¶3. (U) The employee, Steven Walker, had been working for the Zambia division of AMESP for three years. AMESP (African Medical Educational Support Program) is an NGO that specializes in the transportation of food and medicine to refugee camps. AMESP is a US based company with corporate headquarters in New York City.

¶4. (U) Margaret Williamson, Head of International Operations for AMESP, issued the following statement: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Walker family in the wake of this horrific tragedy. Steven was an incredible, caring, kindhearted young man and we will miss him greatly.” When asked how AMESP hoped to avoid future incidents, Mrs. Williamson said the company was looking into additional security measures but declined to go into detail.

INVESTIGATION
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¶5. (SBU) An investigation by the Zambia Police Service (ZPS) is currently underway but has yet to yield any results. The militia responsible for the hijacking and the purpose behind the assault remains unknown. When asked about security measures for NGOs, an official at MONUZ (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en Zambie — United Nations Mission in Zambia) explained that the agency is far too understaffed to safeguard every transport going through Zambia. (COMMENT: Of additional difficulty to MONUZ are the severely restraining rules of engagement that they must abide by. END COMMENT.)

CARGO
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¶6. (S) Among the police reports for the hijacking, one low-level AMESP employee stated to local police that “There wasn’t no food or medicine in that shipment.” She wasn’t pressed on the matter and by the time ZPS begin their official investigation, the employee had been transferred to another AMESP office in the Republic of Congo and was no longer available for additional questions. Other employees who were present at the time of the incident claim they have no idea what she was referring to.

COMMENT
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¶7. (SBU) The hijacking of food, medicine, and supply shipments is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence – particularly along the Zambia side of the Angola-Zambia border. Militias will often use the supplies to gain influence and power among refugees and poor civilians. Additionally, it is often difficult for NGOs to protect shipments due to corruption within local law enforcement and the limitations of MONUZ. In the past, some companies have employed the use of PMCs – to varying degrees of success. END COMMENT.

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