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Darfur Rebels Kidnap 50 UN Peacekeepers

February 20, 2012

VOA News

A rebel group in Sudan's Darfur region says it has abducted about 50 international peacekeepers, mostly from Senegal.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) says it detained the soldiers on Sunday, after they allegedly entered a rebel-held area without permission.

A group spokesman, Gibreel Adam Bilal, says the soldiers were accompanied by three suspected Sudanese intelligence agents.

There was no immediate confirmation of the abduction by the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID.

The JEM is the strongest of the rebel groups that have been fighting Sudan's government since the Darfur conflict began in 2003. The mainly non-Arab groups accuse the central government, dominated by Arabs, of neglecting their region.

UNAMID was deployed in 2007, after rights groups said government forces were raping and murdering civilians and burning down their villages.

The force consists of more than 17,000 troops and more than 5,000 police stationed in Darfur to maintain security and order.

Peacekeepers have frequently been caught up in the region's tension and violence. UNAMID says 110 of its personnel have been killed during the course of the deployment.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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