Originally: U.N. seeking more specialized troops or police for Haiti mission

The United Nations is seeking specialized troops or police for Haiti who could launch complex missions such as late-night raids in dense civilian areas, the top U.N. peacekeeping official said Thursday.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, briefed the U.N. Security Council about the security challenges in the Haiti mission, one of the most difficult the United Nations now face.

Peacekeepers have focused in recent weeks on rooting out politically aligned gangs in Port-au-Prince slums, and in one recent raid, some slum residents said at least nine civilians were killed in crossfire.

But Guehenno said the forces on the ground aren’t trained for that kind of work.

“I have to acknowledge the forces we have do not have the kind of very specialized capacity … that makes absolutely sure that there will be zero civilian casualties in a densely populated environment,” he said.

Guehenno said he envisioned forces–either military or police–that could arrest a gang leader “in the thick of the night, in a couple of minutes.” He compared the ideal forces to tactical units or Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, teams.

In June, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he might call on France or Canada to send such forces. The problem is that the United Nations would want the specialized forces to speak French, Haiti’s official language.

Canada later said it would not be able to meet any such request.

Guehenno, who is French, said he had no commitments yet. He would not say if he had appealed to France himself for the forces.

“The countries that might provide that kind of resource, they are all looking at each other at the moment, and all looking at the situation in Haiti,” he said.