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UN Condemns Killing of Peacekeepers in Darfur

By Margaret Besheer
United Nations
09 July 2008

The United Nations says the ambush that killed seven peacekeepers and wounded 22 others Tuesday in Darfur is the worst violence the force of U.N. and African Union troops has faced since it took on the job in January. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The United Nations says the unknown attackers used heavy weapons and engaged the U.N. convoy of soldiers and police in an exchange of fire that lasted more than two hours.

The U.N. Security Council issued a strongly worded statement condemning the attack on the force known as UNAMID. Ambassador Le Luong Minh of Vietnam, who holds the council presidency this month, read the statement.

"The attack was the most severe on UNAMID since its deployment," said Le Luong Minh. "The members of the council stress that any attack or threat against UNAMID is unacceptable and demand that there be no further attacks."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is on his way back from the G-8 Summit in Japan, expressed his condemnation through spokeswoman, Michele Montas.

"The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms this unacceptable act of extreme violence against the U.N.-AU peacekeepers in Darfur and calls on the government of Sudan to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice," said Michele Montas.

A U.N. spokeswoman in Sudan said the ambush happened as the peacekeepers were returning to their camp after investigating the recent killings of two rebels affiliated with the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). The dead peacekeepers are from Rwanda, Ghana and Uganda.

The 9.000 peacekeepers took over in January from a smaller African Union force. UNAMID is mandated to have 26,000 blue helmets, but a lack of equipment and resistance from the Sudanese government have hampered the deployment.

Darfur has seen five years of conflict between rebels, the Sudanese government and government-backed militias. The United Nations says the conflict has displaced about 2.5 million people and killed as many as 300,000 others.

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