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Darfur: UN-African peacekeeping force to probe Sudanese air strikes

16 May 2011 – The head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur today voiced deep concern after Sudanese military forces carried out air strikes against a town and a village in the south of the war-wracked region.

Sudanese forces yesterday bombed the town of Labado and the village of Esheraya, located about 30 kilometres south of the town of El Daein, the peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) reported today.

Ibrahim Gambari, the head of UNAMID and the Joint UN-AU Special Representative, issued a statement saying he was deeply troubled by the air strikes.

“Civilians are invariably the real and most numerous victims in any conflict,” he said. “I call upon all parties to exercise the utmost restraint in the use of lethal force. All belligerents have a moral responsibility and obligation to respect humanitarian law and the rights of the innocent caught in the violence.”

UNAMID is sending teams to Labado and Esheraya to investigate the bombings, and said the number of casualties and people displaced by the attacks cannot yet be accurately determined.

The air strikes took place just weeks after the Security Council heard that efforts to resolve the Darfur conflict – which has raged since 2003 – had entered a crucial phase and parties to the dispute were considering texts of key elements that could form a comprehensive peace pact.

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