Two peacekeepers from the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were badly wounded today when they were ambushed and shot by unknown men in what an outraged mission chief called a cowardly attack.
The uniformed personnel had just completed escort duties when their vehicle was fired upon by unknown men in Masteri, a village 45 kilometres south of El Geneina, capital of Sudan’s West Darfur state. One peacekeeper, the driver, was seriously injured and his colleague is in critical condition.
“The AU-UN Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari expressed outrage at this cowardly attack against UNAMID’s peacekeepers, who are in Darfur to help restore peace and stability,” the mission said in a statement. “UNAMID remains undaunted and unwavering in its commitment to carrying out its mandate in the service of peace. UNAMID calls upon the Government of the Sudan to identify, capture and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.”
UNAMID, with some 22,500 uniformed personnel currently on the ground out of a total mandated strength of almost 26,000, has been in Darfur for over three years, trying to assist efforts to bring peace to a vast region where a war between the Sudanese Government, backed by militia allies, and various rebel groups has killed at least 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million others since it erupted in 2003.
UNAMID troops have been victims of several attacks in the past. Earlier this month the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed war crimes charges against two rebel leaders accused in the September 2007 attack that killed 12 peacekeepers from the African Union force that was UNAMID’s predecessor, and committed them to trial.