Darfur: Ban and UN-African Union mission condemn attack on peacekeepers

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17 February - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the joint United Nations-African Union mission in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region have deplored an attack carried out yesterday outside of the South Darfur capital of Nyala that wounded seven Pakistani peacekeepers.

The peacekeepers, part of a five-vehicle police convoy, came under heavy gunfire in the afternoon near Sakali, an area located two kilometres from the El-Sherif camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 17 kilometres south of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.

They were returning to their base in Nyala, following a confidence-building patrol in the vicinity of the IDP camp, when several unknown assailants armed with AK-47 assault rifles suddenly opened fire on the convoy, according to a news release issued by the mission, known as UNAMID.

“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to launch an immediate investigation into this incident and to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

Also condemning the attack, the UN-AU mission called on all parties to ensure the safety of its personnel in the region.

The Joint UN-AU Special Representative and head of UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari, who visited the wounded officers at the Nyala Hospital today, voiced his outrage at the “wanton” act of violence. He praised the courage of the peacekeepers and pledged that UNAMID would be undeterred.

“Any attack on peacekeepers is tantamount to a war crime. Those responsible must be brought to justice,” he stated. “Our mission will continue to carry out its mandate – to bring peace and security to the people of Darfur.”

In December 2009, five Rwandan troops were killed and three injured in two separate incidents in North Darfur.

UNAMID deployed in early 2008 to assist in securing lasting peace and stability in the region, where the conflict has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million others.

Since the deployment of the mission, 22 peacekeepers (19 military personnel and three police officers) have lost their lives as a result of hostile actions.