Five peacekeepers killed in Darfur

Gunmen killed five Rwandan soldiers in a series of attacks on the international peacekeeping force in Darfur, a spokesman for the mission said, marking a swift upsurge in violence in the western Sudanese region.

The attacks on Friday and yesterday targeted peacekeepers from the United Nations-African Union force, which was deployed nearly two years ago to protect civilians and improve security in Darfur.

Fighting between rebels and Sudanese government forces began there in 2003, killing up to 300,000 people and driving 2.7 million from their homes. The government says those figures are exaggerated.

That violence has largely subsided, but the two attacks on peacekeepers demonstrate how vulnerable the underfunded and ill-equipped Unamid force remains, as banditry and kidnappings of foreign aid workers continue to plague efforts to stabilise the vast desert region.

In yesterday’s attack, assailants approached the gate of a camp for people displaced by the conflict and shot at peacekeepers distributing water, said Unamid spokesman Kemal Saiki.

That attack took place about 40 miles south of el-Fasher, the capital of northern Darfur.

In the other attack, which took place on Friday near a market and a government checkpoint, gunmen fired on a convoy of Rwandan peacekeepers escorting a water tanker near the northern town of Saraf Umra.

The force fired back, wounding an assailant, but the attackers escaped, Mr Saiki said.

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