SUDAN WATCH: War crime: Carjackers kill peacekeeper in Sudan's Darfur

Friday, May 08, 2009

War crime: Carjackers kill peacekeeper in Sudan's Darfur

From Reuters Friday May 8, 2009 12:51pm EDT
Carjackers kill peacekeeper in Sudan's Darfur
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Carjackers shot and killed an international peacekeeper at the gate of his residence in Sudan's Darfur region, the UNAMID peacekeeping force said on Friday, describing the attack as a "war crime."

The military observer, who died on Thursday evening, was the second peacekeeper to be killed in Darfur since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's president on March 4 on charges of masterminding violence in the western region.

"UNAMID announces with deep regret that one of its people was shot and killed last night in south Darfur, in Nyala, during a carjacking incident," UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni said, reading a statement.

"It was approximately 8.30 p.m., and unidentified gunmen shot the male military observer as he was opening the gate of his residence in Nyala," Mezni said, adding the observer's car was later found abandoned 17 km (10 miles) outside Nyala.

"This attack is deplorable. UNAMID peacekeepers are here to assist the people of Darfur and any attack on them is totally unacceptable," the UNAMID statement quoted Rodolphe Adada, United Nations-African Union special representative to Darfur, as saying. He condemned the attack as a war crime.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said: "It is illustrative of the security problems there are in Darfur ... which we have seen on many occasions already and that is part of the problem of making sure that not only UNAMID can continue to work there successfully, but also the humanitarian actors.

"We need to tackle this banditry, tackle this kind of criminality," said Holmes, who is due in Darfur on Saturday.

Law and order have collapsed in Darfur, where U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have died and more than 2.7 million have been driven from their homes in almost six years of ethnic and politically driven violence. Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

The undermanned joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force UNAMID has found itself caught in the middle of an increasingly chaotic conflict involving bandits, rival tribes, government militias and rebels.

Mezni said a total of 15 peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur since UNAMID deployed there in early 2008, taking over from a beleaguered African Union force.

The joint force is still short of its expected strength of 26,000 and is supposed to keep the peace in an area the size of Spain.

Mezni said he could not immediately release the name or nationality of the peacekeeper who was killed, pending notification of his family. The attack took place in the same town where a Nigerian peacekeeper was killed in March.

(Reporting by Cynthia Johnston and Yara Bayoumy; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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