Peacekeepers assaulted while trying to block unauthorised construction inside buffer zone

UN peacekeepers on Friday were assaulted while trying to block the unauthorised construction of a road from the Turkish Cypriot side inside the buffer zone near Pyla, UNFICYP said, informs in-cyprus.

In an announcement, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) reported assaults against peacekeepers and damage to UN vehicles “by personnel from the Turkish Cypriot side.”

“Threats to the safety of UN peacekeepers and damage to UN property are unacceptable and constitute a serious crime under international law which will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” UNFICYP said.

“UNFICYP calls on the Turkish Cypriot side to respect the mission’s mandated authority inside the UN buffer zone, refrain from any actions that could escalate tensions further and to withdraw all personnel and machinery from the UN buffer zone immediately,” it added.

According to Phileleftheros, the Turkish Cypriot side is trying to construct a road through the buffer zone between the villages of Pyla and Arsos.

The U.N. mission in Cyprus has already said it will block the construction that would encroach on the buffer zone and likely raise tensions.

The road would violate UNFICYP’s mandate of maintaining the status quo inside the buffer zone, the force said in a written statement.

Work began early on Thursday on the road to connect Arsos in the breakaway north with the mixed Greek Cypriot-Turkish Cypriot village of Pyla.

The road would give direct access to Pyla by circumventing a checkpoint on the fringes of the Dhekelia British military base.

Nicosia perceives the road construction as a move with a military purpose at a sensitive spot along the buffer zone spanning 180 kilometres.