x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Militia behind deadly Darfur peacekeeper ambush: rebels

Rebels in Sudan's Darfur region have accused government-linked militia of carrying out an ambush which killed seven peacekeepers and wounded 17.

KHARTOUM // Rebels in Sudan's Darfur region accused government-linked militia today of carrying out an ambush which killed seven peacekeepers and wounded 17.

"We don't have any doubt that the act was done by government militia, because militia are deployed in Khor Abeche area," said Abdullah Moursal, spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army's Minni Minnawi faction.

"This area is completely under government control."

Gibril Adam Bilal, spokesman for another rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, also blamed militia.

"The government must take full responsibility for this incident," which was carried out by government-equipped militia, he claimed.

Officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said "a large unidentified group" ambush took place on Saturday about 25 kilometres west of a UNAMID base at Khor Abeche, north of the South Darfur state capital Nyala.

In addition to the seven dead Tanzanian peacekeeping troops, 17 other military and police personnel were wounded in the attack, the worst in the five-year history of UNAMID.

Rebels have been fighting the government for a decade in Darfur but UNAMID says that clashes between rival tribal and ethnic groups have been responsible for most of the worsening unrest in Darfur this year.

UN experts, human rights activists and tribal leaders have accused government security forces of involvement in this year's tribal fighting.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed outrage at the "heinous attack" and called on Khartoum to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

About 50 UNAMID members have now died in hostile action since the mission began. Before Saturday's attack, six peacekeepers had been killed in Darfur since October.