By United Nations

18 January - The head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari, today called for calm following recent clashes in the town of Nertiti, in Sudan's West Darfur state.

Violence broke out in Nertiti, located 63 kilometres east of the town of Zalingei, on Sunday after an officer of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) was killed by unidentified gunmen, UNAMID said in a press statement, adding that Mr. Gambari “calls upon all concerned parties to exercise the utmost restraint.”

Local authorities conducted a house-to-house search for suspects after the shooting, prompting further tension, which involved an exchange of fire that left a policeman as well as another NISS officer dead.

An UNAMID assessment team visited the scene after the unrest to gather information from the local population, observing that several houses had been burned and shops and the market-place had been closed. The situation is now calm and UNAMID continues its verification and routine patrols of the affected area.

At UN Headquarters in New York, the Security Council today said it remained deeply concerned over escalating violence and insecurity in Darfur, including the kidnapping on 13 January of three members of the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).

“The members of the Council urge all parties to cease hostilities immediately and to ensure full and unhindered access for UNAMID throughout the mission area, and to allow humanitarian workers to provide assistance to all populations in need,” the Council said in a statement, read out to the press by its president for the month of January, Ambassador Ivan Barbalic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The members of the Security Council recall the importance of ending impunity, and of justice for crimes committed in Darfur,” the Council added, while reaffirming its support for the UN-African Union-led peace process for Darfur and urged all groups to join the process without further delay or preconditions.