(Photo of Ambassador Patricia Hawkins)
U.S. Ambassador to Togo Patricia Hawkins and her party were carjacked late Friday night by two men armed with AK-47s, according to Togolaise officials in Lomé. She was not injured. In fact, due to the timely intervention of an aggressive police officer, the carjackers were the only casualties. Both of them were declared DRT - Dead Right There - after an exchange of gunfire and a brief attempt to escape in the Ambassador's Land Cruiser.
Here's the bare-bones version that I found on the English language side of the Republic of Togo's website:
Police shot dead two armed robbers after they attempted to hijack a vehicle carrying the U.S. ambassador, Patricia Hawkins, in the capital Lomé.
"One of the crooks was killed on the spot and the second after an exchange of gunfire with the gendarmerie," a police spokesman said.
As well as the ambassador, the vehicle was also carrying the country representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and another U.S. embassy official.
But there are juicier details on the more voluble French language side. Here is my loose translation from a statement that was issued by the Ministry of Security:
On Friday, January 21, 2011 at about 9PM, a vehicle ... of the United States Embassy in Togo, in which were riding her Excellency Ms. Ambassador, her first counselor [Deputy Chief of Mission], driver and the Resident Representative of the UNDP [United Nations Development Programs] was taken in the Bè neighborhood of Lomé.
The thugs fired shots, and stole the vehicle after forcing the occupants to disembark. A member of the police service who fortunately was not far away discreetly approached and opened fire on the thugs, who were armed with assault rifles, as they attempted to flee. He hit one of the thugs, and there followed an exchange of gunfire between the policeman and the second thug who eventually abandoned the stolen vehicle.
Wounded, he went into hiding in a flower hedge approximately 200 meters from the site of the robbery. With the cooperation of the civilian population, his hiding place was discovered, but he died from his injuries a few moments afterward.
Wow. A lone police officer "discreetly" walks up to a pair of carjackers armed with assault rifles who are in the process of driving off in the Ambassador's Land Cruiser, and he kills them both in a running gunfight. Normally, that kind of thing only happens in action movies.
I hope Lomé has an opening on the Ambassador's protective detail, because that's a guy we want on our team.
p.s. - As per the Department's official guidance on carjacking, the Ambassador and the other victims did the right thing in that situation by giving up the vehicle.