Darfur: UN-African Union mission deplores killing of peacekeeper

30 October 2008

The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur has condemned last night’s attack against the operation that left one blue helmet dead and another wounded, calling it a “cowardly act of wanton violence.”

A contingent of South African soldiers serving with the mission – known as UNAMID – were securing a water point near the Kassab camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North Darfur state about 6 p.m. yesterday when they came under attack from unidentified men in several heavily armed vehicles.

One of the peacekeepers was killed in the attack while another was wounded and later evacuated to El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur and the headquarters of UNAMID, the mission reported today.

UNAMID has dispatched troops to reinforce the attacked location, near the town of Kutum, search for the assailants and conduct an investigation into the killing.

In condemning the attack, the mission noted in a statement that the assailants were targeting UN personnel “who work tirelessly to alleviate the dire suffering of Darfurians.”

More than 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed since 2003 and 2.7 million others displaced from their homes because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.

“UNAMID peacekeepers are serving in Darfur in an effort to bring back and maintain peace in this beleaguered part of the Sudan and all parties are, once again, reminded that under international law any attack against peacekeepers constitutes a war crime,” the mission added.

The hybrid force has been in place since January, succeeding an earlier, under-resourced African Union operation. But only about 10,000 military personnel have been deployed so far, well short of the roughly 26,000 troops, military observers and police officers expected when UNAMID reaches full deployment.

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