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Two Rwandan peacekeepers are killed in Darfur

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-06

Two Rwandan peacekeepers have been killed in an attack in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur where insecurity is rampant, in the second such deadly incident in as many days, a UN source said.

REUTERS - Two Rwandan peacekeepers were shot dead and one was wounded in Sudan's Darfur region on Saturday, the second attack on their contingent in 24 hours, the force said.

Gunmen in traditional robes opened fire on the soldiers as they distributed water in a refugee camp, the joint U.N./African Union force said, a day after three Rwandan soldiers were killed in an ambush as they escorted a water tanker.

UNAMID communications chief Kemal Saiki said it was too early to say whether the attacks were linked. The shooting brought to 22 the number of peacekeepers killed since the undermanned force were deployed in January 2008.

UNAMID, which is supposed to keep the peace in a territory about the size of Spain, has faced threats and harassment from Sudanese government troops, the United Nations reported last month, and has also been targeted by bandits active in the remote western region. Khartoum dismissed the U.N. report.

Saiki said the Rwandans were handing out water at a refugee camp in the settlement of Shangil Tobay, about 65 km (40 miles) south of the capital of north Darfur El Fasher.

"Some men in the crowd were hiding guns in their robes ... They opened fire without warning. Two of the peacekeepers were killed on the spot," Saiki said.

A third Rwandan soldier was wounded, he said, adding the attackers drove off in a UNAMID pick-up, later found abandoned by pursuing peacekeepers.

Three Rwandan soldiers were killed and two wounded in an ambush near the north Darfur settlement of Saraf Omra, about 200 km west of El Fasher, on Friday.

UNAMID said it was investigating the motives of the attackers, but suspected they were trying to steal a vehicle.

Law and order has collapsed more than six years after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Sudan's government, accusing it of neglecting the region.

Sudan's government mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising. Violence has diminished in recent years, replaced in many areas by a free-for-all involving rival tribes, rebel splinter groups and bandits.

Estimates of the death toll range from 300,000 according to the United Nations, to 10,000 according to Khartoum. (Editing by Matthew Jones)

Date created : 2009-12-05