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THREE PEACEKEEPERS SERVING WITH UN-AFRICAN FORCE KILLED IN AMBUSH IN DARFUR

By UN
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21 June - The African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur vowed today that it would not be intimidated from carrying out its work after three blue helmets were killed and a fourth was seriously wounded in an ambush in a remote part of the war-wracked Sudanese region.

The mission, known as UNAMID, reported that more than 20 assailants opened fire without warning on the Rwandan soldiers as they provided security to civilian engineers working near the West Darfur village of Nertiti about 11:30 a.m.

Today's attack occurred little more than a month after two peacekeepers were slain while conducting a routine patrol in South Darfur, and takes the number of UNAMID peacekeepers who have been murdered in Darfur since the mission began operations in January 2008 to 27.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led UN officials in deploring the attack, saying in a statement issued by his spokesperson that the Sudanese Government must make every effort to apprehend the assailants.

“The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who lost their lives and to the Government of Rwanda and reiterates his appreciation for their service and commitment to the search for peace in Darfur,” the statement added.

UNAMID reported that the peacekeepers returned fire against the unknown gunmen, who wore camouflage clothing. In the ensuing firefight, which lasted almost an hour, three assailants were killed and the remainder fled the scene, stealing a vehicle.

The wounded peacekeeper was taken to the mission's hospital in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, and is listed as being in a critical condition.

Mohamed B. Yonis, Deputy Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, voiced outrage at the attack and praised the peacekeepers for their courage. He said the mission would not be deterred from its work.

“Our mission will continue to carry out its mandate, which is to bring peace and security to the people of Darfur,” Mr. Yonis said.

Nertiti is a village located in the remote and mountainous region of Jebel Marra, which straddles the three Darfur states. The civilian engineers had been working at a UNAMID team site near the village at the time of today's attack.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and another 2.7 million others displaced from their homes since fighting erupted in Darfur, an arid region on Sudan's western flank, in 2003. Government forces, allied Janjaweed militiamen and rebel groups have all been accused of grave human rights violations.