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West Darfur: Armed Men Ambush UN Peacekeepers

Armed men ambush peacekeepers serving with UN force in Darfur

22 May 2008 - A Nigerian battalion serving with the hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been ambushed by dozens of men armed with machine guns, rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the mission reported today.

About 50 to 60 armed men on horseback, dressed in military camouflage, ambushed the battalion yesterday afternoon along the new airport road near El Geneina in West Darfur state. They stole rifles, ammunition, telephones and cash.

The ambush occurred as the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) warned that continuing attacks on the staff and assets of aid agencies working in Darfur are threatening humanitarian access and worsening the already perilous conditions faced by many locals.

The hijacking of the North Darfur State Water Corporation's drilling rig by an armed group in March, for example, has meant that as many as 180,000 people may not have access to clean water this year.

In a related development, UNAMID has sent a fact-finding mission to an area of North Darfur where recent fighting over water resources has led to the reported killing of nine civilians.

Meanwhile, UNAMID has issued a statement in which the leadership and staff have voiced their deep sorrow at learning of the deaths of 46 members of a former Nigerian contingent with the mission.

The peacekeepers had just returned to Nigeria after a tour of duty in Darfur when their vehicle was involved in a road accident.


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