2 more Rwandan peacekeepers killed in Darfur

December 6, 2009 12:00 am

, KHARTOUM, Dec 6 – Two Rwandan peacekeepers were killed in an attack on Saturday in Sudan\’s war-torn region of Darfur where insecurity is rampant, in the second such deadly incident in as many days, a UN source said.

"Rwandan soldiers were distributing water at the gate of a camp for the displaced in Shangil Tobaya when one or two armed men fired at them. Two soldiers were killed and one was wounded," he said on condition of anonymity.

The assailants had hidden the guns under their traditional long robes, the source said.

Kamal Saiki, head of communications with the joint United Nations African Union Mission (UNAMID) in Darfur, contacted by AFP, confirmed the incident in the town of North Darfur state.

Saiki said the attack took place at around 4:40 pm (1340 GMT) but the motives were unclear, while a source close to the case said a UNAMID vehicle was seized.

On Friday, three Rwandan peacekeepers were killed in an attack by gunmen near a UNAMID base in Saraf Omra, also in North Darfur.

"We have no indication of the number of assailants. We suspect that this was an attempt to steal the vehicles that went wrong, but we can not be sure of that," Saiki said on Friday.

The death of the five peacekeepers was the highest single toll over a 24-hour period since an ambush in the Umm Hakibah area of Shangil Tobaya in July 2008 cost the lives of seven UNAMID personnel.

Twenty-two peacekeepers have now been killed since the mission\’s launch.

Both African Union commission chief Jean Ping and UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned Friday\’s attack.

"This unwarranted attack caused the death of three peacekeepers of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, and the injury of two others," Ping said, offering his condolences to relatives of the dead.

Ban called on the Khartoum government to ensure that the gunmen "be identified and brought to justice."

The UN says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and more than 2.7 million fled their homes since a conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003 pitting separatist rebels against Khartoum.

The government says 10,000 people have been killed.

Clashes have eased but insecurity has degenerated, with a spate of kidnappings of foreign aid workers since the International Criminal Court indicted President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes in Darfur last March.

Three Western aid workers of the medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres were kidnapped that month in the town of Saraf Omra, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the border with Chad, but released three days later.

Two civilian employees of UNAMID seized in western Darfur at the end of August are still in the hands of their kidnappers.

UNAMID, which was launched in January 2008, is the UN\’s largest mission, with 26,000 troops and police officers expected when full deployment is complete. It now has more than 18,000 personnel on the ground.


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