AU slams peacekeeper killings

2010-06-22 21:19

Addis Ababa - African Union chief Jean Ping on Tuesday condemned an attack in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region that killed three peacekeepers.

The joint UN-AU mission (Unamid) trying to bring stability to the region said a group of 20 gunmen in camouflage armed with AK-47s opened fire on Monday on a civil engineering project, killing three Rwandan peacekeepers.

Ping "expresses his deep indignation at the unprovoked and deliberate attack," said a statement sent to AFP.

"He strongly condemns this despicable attack, which occurred at a time when all the efforts are being made to speed up the restoration of peace, security and stability in Darfur," it added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also condemned the attack, urging the Khartoum government to find the unidentified assailants.

Monday's deaths bring to 27 the number of Unamid members killed in Darfur since the force - the UN's largest mission with more than 20 000 soldiers and police - was deployed there in January 2008.

A surge in violence in Darfur cost almost 600 lives in May, the highest monthly death toll since the peacekeepers were deployed, according to Unamid.

Darfur has since 2003 been the scene of an armed revolt against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government to secure a greater share of resources and power.

The UN says 300 000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes. The Khartoum government puts the death toll at 10 000.