updated 12/20/2004 10:19:01 AM ET 2004-12-20T15:19:01

A police investigation has concluded that two United Nations peacekeepers from Ethiopia sexually abused underage girls in Burundi.

The findings were sent to local U.N. officials and a copy was filed at a court, said Anatole Ntukamazina, commander of the public security police. No charges were immediately filed.

The two Ethiopian peacekeepers were arrested Dec. 11 in the northeastern Muyinga province on suspicion of having sex with underage girls who were found in their hotel rooms, Ntukamazina said.

Ethiopian soldiers account for the largest contingent of troops in the 5,476-member U.N. force helping to monitor a peace deal between the government and Hutu rebels that ended Burundi’s 11-year civil war.

The two peacekeepers have been suspended and transferred to the central province of Gitega to await the results of a separate U.N. investigation, said Adama Diop, a spokesman for the U.N. mission.

Peacekeepers“There will be severe and exemplary military sanctions if investigations reveal that they are guilty,” Diop said. “We received clear instruction from the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that we should never tolerate abuses.”

The inquiry in Burundi follows last month’s revelation that the United Nations is investigating 150 allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in neighboring Congo.

In Congo, the accusations against U.N. peacekeepers include rape, pedophilia and solicitation, and three U.N. civilian staff members have also been suspended for alleged sexual misconduct.

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