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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
09 January 2006

SUDAN: AU condemns killing of peacekeeper in West Darfur

NAIROBI, 9 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - An African Union (AU) peacekeeper in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region has been killed, and ten others injured, the chairman of the 53-nation AU block said on Saturday.

Alpha Oumar Konare said he was "deeply saddened" by the attack at lunchtime on Friday close to the border with Chad, with accusations from Sudan that its neighbour was behind the attack.

Chad has categorically denied it was to blame. Relations between Sudan and Chad are at a low ebb, with each blaming the other for rebel attacks within their borders.

The AU said they did not know who was behind the attack against them.

A 30-strong Senegalese force was traveling from the town of Tine to their base in Kulbus in West Darfur, when they were ambushed, the AU said in the statement.

The attack is the second ambush against Senegalese forces since November, when four Senegalese soldiers were wounded, two seriously.

AU forces are increasingly targeted by combatants in Darfur, suffering their first casualties in October when three Nigerian soldiers were killed in another ambush.

On Thursday, the UN decided to withdraw all but its essential personnel from West Darfur State, due to a build-up of armed groups on either side of the border with neigbouring Chad.

"The situation is very grim," George Somerwill, chief of public information of the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said. "It has been getting worse over the last six weeks or so."

Last month the AU warned they were running out of cash for the mission and appealed to the international community for more support for its 7,700 peacekeepers.

The force needs US $465 million a year to operate, but so far they only received $330 million.



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