Sunday, January 23, 2011

U.S. Ambassador Carjacked in Lomé

(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.


Anonymous said...

she is not as clean as that...

TSB said...


Are you suggesting the Ambassador was somehow responsible for being carjacked?

Anonymous said...

I was there that night , arriving on scene appx 15mins after the incident and assisted with crowd control and scene interpretation. The english version intimates that the Gendarmerie was responsible for shooting the carjackers , however it was an ex-gendarme working as a bodyguard for an Indian industrialist who was waiting in the car park for his boss, that did in fact actually retaliate, initially with a handgun that failed , then with one of the attackers own AK 47's that he wrenched from the man . He actually ran after the vehicle firing on semi auto.
One guy died from his wounds about 500m from the scene and the second died on scene with a bullet to the head behind the right ear . The vehicle was hit about five times . Other vehicles in the area were also hit.
The two car jackers were from Benin , and had cross border vehicle passes that could have allowed them to take the car to Nigeria.

TSB said...


Thanks very much for your comment! That's excellent information.

I knew about the handgun failure, but since I knew that from official sources, I didn't add it to my post. What a thing! You pull a gun on two armed hijackers and find yourself holding a worthless hunk of metal.

Kudos to that guy. I hope he has gone on to bigger things and richer clients.