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Initial UN probe underway into attack on Darfur peacekeepers

10 July 2008 – The United Nations has launched an initial enquiry into Tuesday’s attack on the joint UN-African Union force in Darfur, which resulted in the deaths of seven peacekeepers, a spokesperson for the world body said today.

In addition to the five Rwandan peacekeepers and two police officers – one from Ghana and the other from Uganda – that were killed, 19 others – and not 22 as initially reported – were wounded when a patrol from the force, known as UNAMID, came under attack in North Darfur.

“A preliminary fact-finding investigation is underway, which will be followed by an official investigation,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

UNAMID reports that seven of its vehicles were removed by the attackers. Two other vehicles were burnt and an armoured personnel carrier was vandalized.

The joint UNAMID military and police team was on a patrol to conduct an investigation into the killing of civilians in the area when they came under attack.

The perpetrators were onboard 40 vehicles mounted with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft weaponry and recoilless weapons, the mission said.

During the attack, the team was engaged in a heavy and sustained fire, which lasted for about three hours, resulting in the loss of lives and severe injuries.

The attack received widespread condemnation from UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who condemned what he called an “unacceptable act of extreme violence against AU-UN peacekeepers in Darfur.”

Mr. Ban called on the Government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice, in a statement issued yesterday.

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