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Team Should Investigate Darfur Bombing Reports

Investigators needed to verify Darfur bombing reports - UN mission military chief

28 July 2008 - A joint team of military, police, human rights and civil affairs officers should be set up to investigate reports of Sudanese Government bombings of former rebel positions in Darfur, the military chief of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission to the strife-torn region said today.

General Martin Luther Agwai, the Force Commander of the mission (known as UNAMID), said the investigation team should be established as soon as possible to fly to the affected areas as the roads are impassable during the current rainy season.

Gen. Agwai stressed it was important to verify reports that Government forces had recently bombed positions of the Minni Minawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) in North Darfur state.

UNAMID is continuing to conduct patrols and help with humanitarian assistance programmes across Darfur, which remains beset by violence and instability five years after rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militiamen known as the Janjaweed.

More than 300,000 are estimated to have died, either through direct combat, malnutrition or disease, and another 2.7 million others have been displaced from their homes since 2003.

In the past 24 hours UNAMID has carried out 33 confidence-building patrols, five night patrols, 13 patrols escorting women who carry firewood and 16 escorts of humanitarian assistance.

The mission said an escort convoy operation was blocked over the weekend, and a clinic run by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Médecins Sans Frontières in Tawilla, North Darfur, was robbed. An international staff member was slightly injured in the attack and the robbers escaped with about $9,000. Sudanese police are now investigating.

UNAMID's current mandate is due to expire later this month, and Security Council members held consultations on a draft resolution to extend the mission. The 15-member body also issued a report on a visit last month by a Council delegation to five African countries, including Sudan.

ENDS

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