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AU peacekeepers killed in Nigerian road crash

At least 43 Nigerian soldiers returning from a peacekeeping mission for the African Union force in Darfur died when their convoy collided with a petrol tanker.

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At least 43 Nigerian soldiers who just returned from a peacekeeping mission in Darfur have been killed in a road accident in the north of Nigeria, a military spokesman said Thursday.

The soldiers, including an army captain, were in a convoy of seven vehicles in northeastern Yobe state on Wednesday when one of them collided with an oncoming petrol tanker near the city of Potiskum, said Brigadier-general Emeka Onwuamaegbu.

Several soldiers were also injured in the accident, he said, adding that the dead soldiers would be given a state burial.

"The military authorities regret this unfortunate incident. The fallen soldiers will be buried with full national honours since they died in the service of their fatherland," he added.

The soldiers had been part of an African Union (AU) force serving in western Sudan's Darfur region, where the death toll from five years of civil war, famine and disease may be up to 300,000, according to UN estimates.

More than two million people have also been displaced by the conflict which broke out in February 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime and state-backed Arab militias.

Last September, seven Nigerian soldiers were among 10 AU soldiers killed by rebel forces in the troubled region.
  

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