Aid workers killed in Darfur attack

February 23, 2009 12:00 am

, KHARTOUM Feb 23 – Two Sudanese working for a French humanitarian aid group in Darfur were shot and killed in a weekend attack that also left four people wounded, a spokesman for UN peacekeepers said on Monday.

A gang of 24 men on horses and camels ambushed the workers on Saturday on a road between Kurunji and Khor Abeshe in South Darfur.

"A Land Rover jeep carrying three people with Aide Medicale Internationale arrived at the site. The armed men opened fire," said Kamal Saiki, a spokesman for the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping forces in Darfur.

"Two Sudanese humanitarian people were killed and four civilians were injured," he said. "It seems to be a villainous act without political motivation."

The UN spokesman was unable to say whether the assailants belonged to the state-backed Arab militias called Janjaweed which operate in the region, often on horseback.

Aide Medicale Internationale is a French humanitarian association which has 70 local staff and a dozen expatriates working from three sites in Darfur and at its Khartoum headquarters.

Orla Clinton, a UN humanitarian coordination agency spokeswoman, told AFP that the deaths were the first two since the start of the year, compared to 11 aid workers killed in 2008 in the Darfur region.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum and the Janjaweed.

Over the last six years, the rebels have fractured into multiple movements and the war has widened into overlapping tribal conflicts making the region increasingly dangerous for humanitarian relief efforts.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and more than 2.2 million fled their homes. Sudan puts the death toll at 10,000.

The United Nations and African Union have a joint peacekeeping mission in Darfur, where 15,200 police and troops are stationed.


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