Darfur gunmen attack senior African Union peacekeeping officer

A SENIOR officer with the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur in western Sudan was attacked yesterday by gunmen who seriously wounded his driver, the force said in a statement.

“Four unidentified armed men attacked the car of the Ghanaian colonel in El-Fasher in north Darfur, wounding his driver and seizing the vehicle,” said the spokesman for the 7,000-strong African Union force known as AMIS.

The Khartoum government has agreed in principle to a 26,000-strong force of UN and AU troops for Darfur, made up mainly of African soldiers and known as UNAMID, to replace the AU soldiers who have been unable to put an end to the bloodshed in Darfur. Joint UN-AU envoy Rodolphe Adada on Sunday met Yussef Kibr, the governor of north Darfur to raise the question of security for the UNAMID mission.

Khartoum has agreed in principle to UNAMID, but wrangles over its exact make-up and logistics have held up the deployment.

Meanwhile, Darfur rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement said yesterday they had beaten back two attacks by government soldiers and sabotaged an oil facility.

One of the main rebel movement’s commanders, Abdel Aziz Nur al-Ashr, said in a clash with Khartoum’s troops in the Sirba region JEM forces seized 32 vehicles and took “numerous prisoners”.

He said government forces had attacked civilians and burned their villages before clashing with the rebels.

The rebels said they had attacked the Defra oil facility in south Kordofan, halting production estimated at 50,000 barrels a day. If confirmed, this would be the third assault by the rebel group against petroleum installations in Kordofan after the rebel group said it would target Chinese oil firms until China ends its operations in Sudan.

Beijing is Khartoum’s biggest foreign trade partner and has invested more than $400 million (€277m) in Sudan’s Darfur region alone, according to Chinese figures.

But China has often been accused of failing to exert pressure on President Omar al-Beshir to stop the bloodshed in Darfur, where the conflict has left about 200,000 people dead and displaced more than two million, according to UN figures.

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