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Two African peacekeepers killed in Sudan’s Darfur

19 August 2006
Sudan Tribune article

Two African Union peacekeepers were killed and three wounded when their convoy was ambushed in Sudan’s Darfur region Saturday, the AU said in a statement.

Today, 19 August 2006, at 08.50 a.m, a group of unidentified armed men attacked an African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) fuel convoy traveling from El Nahud to El Fasher in the Kuma area. Two AMIS soldiers were killed in the attack and three have been wounded, the statement said.

The AU "condemns in the strongest possible terms this outrageous attack against its forces in Darfur," it said. The statement didn’t say from which country the killed and wounded African peacekeepers came from.

But an AU source said the soldiers who were attacked were from Rwanda.

The Kuma area, located at around 80 kilometres (50 miles) northeast of Darfur’s main town of Al-Fasher, is under the control of rebels who did not sign the May peace deal, but the AU said it was not clear who the attackers were.

Leaders of the groups found responsible for this "despicable attack" will be held "personally accountable," said the AU, without specifying which armed groups it suspected of being involved. The state-run SUNA accused the rebel National redemption Front of the responsablity of the attack.

Darfur is teeming with various rebel factions, pro-government paramilitary and tribal militia who regularly clash against each other or plunder the camps where some 2 million have taken refuge from the fighting.

The attack came days after the African Union asked delegates from several rebel groups to leave its facilities because they refuse to endorse the Darfur Peace Agreement signed May 5 between Khartoum and main rebel leader Minni Minnawi, who heads the Sudan Liberation Movement.

“This unprovoked ambush against AMIS peacekeepers is also a clear breach of the ceasefire agreements, with which all parties are bound to comply, as well as the relevant AU PSC and UNSC resolutions,” the AU said.

The peace deal is geared at ending a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 in Sudan’s remote western region since 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government, which responded by unleashing militias known as the janjaweed that have been blamed for much of the atrocities.

International observers agree government forces have stepped down violence since signing the agreement, but say that inter-rebel fighting has increased and that the humanitarian crisis in Darfur has worsened.

African Union officials have asked the international community to provide more funding and better equipment, warning that the AU force would otherwise have to leave Darfur at the end of September when its initial mandate ends.

On Thursday, the U.S. and the U.K. introduced a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would transfer peacekeeping efforts from the AU to a much larger and effective U.N. force, but the Sudanese president strongly opposes such a move.