‘Erroneous accounts on South Darfur clashes misinform Sudan’: Unamid

The AU-UN mission said that it responded appropriately to attacks in Kass this week, in which four gunmen were killed. It claims that incorrect reports are put out in the media.

The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid) reiterated that its peacekeepers responded appropriately to two attacks against them by armed men in Kass, South Darfur, on 23 and 24 April, claiming that an erroneous version of the events is being put out to misinform the public and the Sudanese government.

“In both incidents, Unamid troops returned fire but did not initiate any shooting; they only acted to protect themselves,” said African Union-United Nations Acting Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Abiodun Bashua. He denied the reports in the media that the peacekeepers opened fire on a group of civilians.

Bashua claimed that the mission has evidence that “the attackers, who were riding on horses and camels, were armed with AK-47 assault rifles with which they shot at the peacekeepers”. The peacekeepers’ response therefore was “appropriate and proportional”, the mission writes in a statement on Saturday.

The peacekeeping mission is engaging with the Sudanese government, the AU and the UN to defuse the tension following the two incidents on Thursday and Friday. Unknown attackers opened fire on Unamid troops on Thursday evening at a water well in Kass, 85 km north-west of Nyala. The ensuing gunfight resulted in four attackers killed, one injured, and two peacekeepers wounded.

On Friday morning a Unamid patrol travelling from Nyala was attacked near the mission’s base in Kass. Four peacekeepers were injured during the exchange of fire, a spokesman for the mission told Radio Dabanga. Since the inception of the mission in December 2007, 61 peacekeepers have lost their lives in hostile action in Darfur.

State officials and a witness have provided a different account of the incidents, stating that the group of people were in fact not hostile to the peacekeepers, and implying that the troops misjudged the situation.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, the vice-president of the South Darfur legislative council, the commissioner of Kass, and a person claiming to be an eyewitness said that six civilians were killed by peacekeepers on Thursday. They said that residents of Kass town came under fire by Unamid guards when they gathered near the base on Friday.

The Governor of South Darfur, Adam Mahmoud Jarelnabi, accused the Unamid of capturing some of the people on Thursday and killing them inside the nearby base of the mission.