UN fury at Darfur militia ambush

un-logo.gifUN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned an ambush which left seven members
of the joint UN-African Union peace mission to Sudan’s Darfur region
dead.

Twenty-two others were injured, seven critically, in one of the deadliest assaults on UN forces in recent years.

The
UN says its peacekeepers fought for over two hours to repulse suspected
Janjaweed fighters, who were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled
grenades.

Only 10,000 of a planned 26,000-strong peacekeeping force have been deployed.

Correspondents
say the UN-AU mission, which began work this year, lacks the military
hardware, including attack helicopters, needed to operate effectively
in a region roughly the size of France.

‘Extreme violence’

About 40 armoured vehicles ambushed the peace force while it was on patrol in North Darfur on Wednesday.

Ten vehicles from the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) were destroyed, Sudan’s state media reported.

A
spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he "condemns in
the strongest possible terms this unacceptable act of extreme
violence".

The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan at the UN in New York
says that UN officials suspect Janjaweed militia loyal to Sudan’s
government were to blame.

She says diplomats are wondering
whether the timing of the attack could be linked to the fact that top
Sudanese officials could be indicted for war crimes at the
International Criminal Court next week.

The Janjaweed has long
been hostile to UN troops in Sudan, fearing they could be used to
arrest anyone indicted by the court at the Hague, our correspondent
says.

Since the conflict began in Darfur five years ago, the
UN estimates that some 300,000 people have died and two million have
fled their homes.

The conflict began when rebels took up arms in protest at alleged government discrimination against the region.

Pro-government Arab militias have been accused of widespread atrocities against the black African population.

Source: BBC