AU stresses need to investigate attacks on Unamid in Darfur
The chairwoman of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has expressed her deep concerns by the attacks on Unamid peacekeepers last Thursday and Friday in Kass, South Darfur.
Unknown attackers opened fire on Unamid troops on Thursday evening at a water well in Kass, 85 km northwest of Nyala. Four of the assailants were killed in the ensuing gunfight, and one was injured. Two peacekeepers sustained injuries too. On Friday morning, a Unamid patrol was attacked near the mission’s base in Kass. Four peacekeepers were wounded, a spokesman for the mission told Radio Dabanga.
Dlamini-Zuma “deeply regrets” the loss of life recorded during the attacks, the AU stated in a press release today. She stressed the need to pursue a “transparent and fair investigation into the incidents, in order to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice”.
The AU chairwoman lauded Unamid’s commitment to cooperate fully with the Sudanese government, and its use of “the agreed-upon mechanisms to facilitate an effective stabilisation of the area, in order to avoid a recurrence of such incidents”.
She further reiterated AU's full support to Unamid “in its continued efforts to maintain stability, including through engagement with local communities”, and urged the local communities to “exercise utmost restraint and to desist from any action likely to heighten tension in the area”.
Sudanese officials and a witness have provided a different account of the incidents. They said that the Unamid troops opened fire at a group of armed members of a “rescue team” who did not behave in a hostile way to the peacekeepers, implying that the troops misjudged the situation.
The governor of South Darfur, Adam Mahmoud Jarelnabi, accused the peacekeepers of capturing people on Thursday, and killing them inside the Unamid base.
The peacekeeping mission has launched its own investigation into the incidents. Unamid officials said that their peacekeepers responded appropriately when they were attacked, and claimed that an erroneous version of the events is being put out to misinform the public and the Sudanese government.
After the rape of more than 200 women in the village of Tabit in North Darfur at the end of October, Unamid proposed a thorough investigation. Sudan responded by urging the mission’s departure from Darfur.
President Al Bashir stated on 30 November that Unamid had become a “security burden” on the Sudan Armed Forces. “Instead of offering the Sudanese army support in protecting the civilians in the region, they are protecting the rebels”. Therefore, he said, Unamid should develop a “clear exit programme”. Khartoum has since demanded that 15,000 peacekeepers be withdrawn by the end of this year.
On Sunday, Sudanese authorities refused to approve a flight request for an emergency medical evacuation of a Unamid peacekeeper. He died from his injuries, sustained in West Darfur, not much later.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “deeply regrets” the decision by the Sudanese government. In a press statement on Monday, he conveyed his condolences to the government of Ethiopia and the family of the deceased Ethiopian peacekeeper.
Since the inception of the mission in December 2007, 61 peacekeepers were killed in Darfur.
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