Sudan ambush leaves seven peacekeepers dead, more than a dozen wounded

Thursday, July 10, 2008

At least seven United Nations peacekeepers are dead, and nearly two dozen wounded, after Janjaweed militants in Darfur, Sudan, ambushed their convoy around 11:45 GMT. Five of those troops were from the African nation of Rwanda.

Troops fought with militants for over two hours after militants ambushed their convoy of 40 armoured vehicles. Sudanese media states that ten were wrecked beyond repair.

Hafiz Mohammed, who leads the Sudan program at Justice Africa in London, England, says the latest attack reflects the deteriorating security situation on the ground and that everyone in Sudan is at risk of being attacked.

Rwandan soldiers board a US transport aircraft at Kigali International Airport for deployment in Darfur in 2005.

"The situation is very bad. Instead of actually protecting the civilians, they will end up not able even to protect themselves. It's sad to see this happening. It's going to discourage countries to contribute to the unit, which is creating problems. This is the security situation in Darfur, nobody is immune from being attacked," said Mohammed.

The U.N. has condemned the attack releasing a statement saying, "the secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon) condemns in the strongest possible terms this unacceptable act of extreme violence against AU-U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur and calls on the government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice."

The peacekeepers are part of a joint African Union-U.N. mission aimed at putting 26,000 troops in the region. So far only around 10,000 of that planned mission have been ordered to the region. Countries unwilling to contribute forces, and constant government restrictions from Sudan, have contributed to the slow movement of troops to the region.