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Hugo Casales
Juan Alvarado
Ivan Yakovlev
Sa Law
Comrade Grace
Albert Minasyan
Zaza Geladze
Major Luis Ospina
NM
Mousa Ibragim Osman
Jimmy Katumba
Eliana Gonzales
Shushila Magar
Chong-Cha Lee
Ahmed Zia
Muktar
Hugo Casales
By Darren Conway
Video producer in Democratic Republic of Congo

In a military camp in Bunia, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, some things seemed strangely out of place.

South American music filled the African air, as Latin American men lazed in the sun, sipping tea and working on their tans. This is home to the Uruguayan contingent of the UN mission.

Captain Hugo Casales and his men from the 15th Infantry Battalion were not lazing around but recovering from an exhausting 18-hour operation that ended only hours earlier.

Hugo joined the military academy in 1996 and, like many, joined as a chance to see the world. It also did not take long for him to realise that a UN posting would guarantee a hefty increase in the size of his pay packet.

Day and night

Midnight on 22 March, and Hugo and his men have returned from a five-hour ambush operation just in time to re-kit for the next one.

Fresh intelligence suspects that a militia leader is hiding in the central market. Hugo and his men have been tasked to use the cover of night to trek the five miles from the base to the market and get into position for a surprise attack.

They are constantly at risk of ambush.

Silence in the troop carrier on the way indicates that many times they have come under fire

The next 24 hours are spent at the sharp end of peace-keeping. Hugo and his men operate throughout the evening, waiting in cover, patrolling streets, searching houses and then preparing to do it all over again.

While his men rest, Hugo patrols the town on his own, familarising himself with the terrain that he might have to lead his men over in the dead of night.

Tonight they face a foot patrol through the streets of the market place, one of the most dangerous militia strongholds in the city.

Captain Casales has led his men through these streets many times and the silence in the troop carrier on the way indicates that many times they have come under fire.

The mission is supposed to be short and sweet, to establish a presence and a show of force. It will be seen as a success if they are all in their bunks, asleep, by midnight.

They were.

One Day of War was broadcast in the UK on Thursday, 27 May, 2004 at 2100 BST on BBC Two.


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