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Darfur: Ban deplores attack resulting in death of African Union-UN peacekeeper

29 September 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today strongly condemned an attack on an African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) convoy that resulted in the death of a peacekeeper, and appealed to Sudanese authorities to ensure that those responsible are held to account.

The convoy carrying civilian and military personnel was attacked on Monday evening by six to eight armed men in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur.

“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to do its utmost to identify the perpetrators and to hold them accountable for this deadly attack,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

Mr. Ban called on all sides involved in the Darfur conflict to respect the integrity of the blue helmets, while underscoring the UN’s commitment to continue peacekeeping, mediation and humanitarian efforts in the war-wracked region on the western flank of Sudan.

UNAMID also called on the Sudanese authorities “to speedily investigate this wanton incident to bring the perpetrators to justice,” in a news release condemning the attack.

Initial reports say the men opened fire without warning on the convoy, which comprised three vehicles, and stole one of the vehicles. Three military personnel were injured and taken to the El Geneina hospital, and subsequently evacuated by helicopter to the UNAMID hospital in Nyala, South Darfur, more than 300 kilometres from El Geneina.

“One of the peacekeepers succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards,” the Mission stated.

A total of 5 UNAMID national and international civilian staff members, 2 non-UNAMID personnel, 13 military troops and 4 military police were involved in the incident, it added.

“UNAMID emphasizes that peacekeepers are in Darfur to assist in restoring peace and stability to the region. Any attack on peacekeepers is an attack on peace itself.”

Since January 2008, the Mission has been trying to quell the violence in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others displaced as a result of conflict pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen since 2003.

So far 14 military personnel and three civilian police have been killed as a result of hostile attacks in the strife-torn region.

In addition, two of UNAMID’s civilian staff members were abducted from their home in the West Darfur town of Zalingei exactly one month ago. They have still not been released.

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