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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
29 May 2006

SUDAN: African Union soldier killed in West Darfur

NAIROBI, 29 May 2006 (IRIN) - A soldier serving in the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) protection force has been killed during an ambush in the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur, AMIS sources said.

The soldier was killed on Friday when an AMIS patrol team was attacked by armed militia on the road between their camp and the town of Masteri in West Darfur State, near Sudan's border with Chad. Two soldiers were wounded during the ambush, while unconfirmed reports indicated that a number of attackers had been killed during the clash.

"The AMIS patrol was ambushed by 12 armed men with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and AK-47 rifles," AMIS spokesman Nourreddine Mezni, said on Monday. He added that on Saturday between 50 and 60 armed men also attacked the AMIS base in Masteri itself, leaving five soldiers wounded.

The armed men, reportedly, fired several RPG rounds into the camp from a short distance. Government forces mobilised helicopter gunships in support of AMIS to pursue the attackers.

"There are unconfirmed reports that indicate that the attackers may have been members of Abdelwahid [Mohamed El Nur]’s faction of the SLA [Sudan Liberation Army]," George Somerwill, head of public information of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said.

On 5 May, the Sudanese government signed the Darfur Peace Agreement {DPA) with the main rebel group, Minni Minnawi’s faction of the SLA. Observers warn, however, that many other armed groups in the region, including Abdelwahid’s faction of the SLA and the Justice and Equality Movement, are unhappy with the agreement and are likely to resume hostilities if their demands are not met.

In a letter to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, sent on 23 May, Abdelwahid appealed to Annan to help "bridge the gap between us and the GoS [Government of Sudan] with the ultimate goal of reaching a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Darfur".

In his letter, the SLA faction leader identified three demands - compensation for victims of the war, more posts for the SLA in the government and greater involvement in disarming the Janjawid militia. These demands must be fulfilled before his faction can sign the agreement, Abdelwahid said. The Sudanese government has, however, consistently refused to accept them.

"Our aim is to have everybody on board," Mezni said. "Our efforts will continue to convince the leaders of the other factions to sign [the DPA] as well. Some leaders are expected in Addis Ababa on the 31st [of May, ahead of the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on 3 June]."

Areas close to Sudan's volatile border with Chad have come under attack many times by armed Arab militia or Janjawid. Since the the peace deal, the militias have become bolder in engaging AMIS troops.

A third rebel group, the National Movement for Reconstruction and Development (NMRD), which is a breakaway faction of the Justice and Equality Movement, has also attacked AMIS in West Darfur in the past, demanding representation in the Darfur peace talks.

"That’s the problem right now in Darfur," Somerwill said. "There are so many armed groups that it is very hard to determine who is responsible when something happens."



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