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Sudanese Army Elements Attack UN Convoy

Sudanese army elements attack UN convoy; Ban Ki-moon protests

Elements of the Sudanese army attacked a supply convoy of the new joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region last night, and a civilian Sudanese driver suffered seven gunshot wounds.

Condemning the attack "in the strongest possible terms," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Sudanese Government to prevent any recurrence and fulfil its obligations concerning the deployment of the force, known as UNAMID, which was put on high alert today. The convoy, carrying rations for UNAMID personnel in West Darfur, was attacked in an area that has seen violent clashes between the Government and rebels.

"For the joint African Union–United Nations peacekeeping operation to be able to perform its mandated functions, the Government of Sudan has to provide unequivocal guarantees that there will be no recurrence of such activities by its forces," Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

"In this connection, the United Nations is lodging a protest with the Government of Sudan. This incident underscores the importance of the Government reaffirming its commitment to the deployment of UNAMID and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1769," he added of the resolution setting up the force.

In a statement issued by UNAMID, the hybrid force said it did not return fire, and no UNAMID casualties were incurred during the attack on the re-supply mission between Um Baru, Tine and Kulbus in West Darfur, an area where its air operations have been restricted due to the security concerns.

It added that the Sudanese civilian driver was in critical condition and had already been evacuated to UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher. A diesel truck and a UNAMID armed personnel carrier were damaged.

"UNAMID is currently maintaining a high state of alert," the force said. "Investigation of the incident is underway and the UNAMID leadership is in direct consultations and discussion with Sudanese authorities in Khartoum and El Fasher over the matter."

The force formally took over from an African Union mission just last week in a bid to bring peace to Darfur, a region the size of France where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since fighting began in 2003 between Government forces and rebel groups.

But, with only 9,000 armed personnel, it is critically under strength. With a mandated total of some 26,000 troops and police it would be the UN's largest peacekeeping operation, and Mr. Ban has repeatedly appealed to Member States to speed up delivery of vital units and equipment, including helicopters.


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