Suspects in Darfur peacekeepers killings detained radio

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Sudanese authorities have detained suspects in the killings of four Nigerian peacekeepers in Darfur, state radio said on Tuesday, after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon urged swift justice in the case.

“The authorities arrested those who are involved in the attack on UNAMID (the U.N.-African Union Mission in Darfur) near El-Geneina, in West Darfur,” Radio Omdurman reported in an SMS news alert which gave no more details.

A UNAMID official contacted by AFP could not immediately confirm the information.

U.N. sources say the attack on October 2 was the deadliest in UNAMID’s nearly five-year history.

Ban was “appalled and deeply saddened” by the ambush, his spokesman Martin Nesirky said last week.

“The secretary general urges the government of the Sudan to conduct a full investigation and to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice,” Nesirky said.

The U.N. has regularly made such calls after the deaths of peacekeepers in Darfur, and has described such attacks as a war crime.

But U.N. sources told AFP earlier Tuesday that they were unaware of anybody being brought to justice in Sudan for killing a peacekeeper.

The deaths of the Nigerians brought to 42 the number of UNAMID members killed in hostile action.

Nine other peacekeepers were wounded in the ambush, UNAMID said, revising an earlier toll of eight wounded.

The mission has said the Nigerian patrol was attacked about two kilometers (just over a mile) from its regional headquarters.

“UNAMID personnel, who were heavily fired upon from several directions, returned fire,” it said, adding the assailants were not identified.

Darfur’s special prosecutor, Yasir Ahmed Mohammed, told the official SUNA news agency on Friday that a criminal and anti-terrorism investigation of the killings had begun.

Local sources did not blame government forces for the ambush but called it “strange” that it happened near some state-run checkpoints.

Much of the unrest in Darfur now is linked to pro-government Arab groups, which fight among themselves as well as against the regime, because “they feel protected,” humanitarian sources have previously said.

Pro-government militia also commit most of the rapes, shootings and other violence in camps for those displaced by the conflict, the sources charge.

Ethnic minority rebels rose against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003. In response, the government unleashed state-backed Janjaweed Arab militia in a conflict that shocked the world and led to allegations of genocide.

The U.N. estimates at least 300,000 people died but the government puts the toll at 10,000.

Although violence is down from its peak, clashes between rebels and government troops, banditry such as carjackings, and inter-ethnic fighting continues.

Denouncing the attack on the Nigerians, the United States last Thursday voiced concern that security was worsening in parts of Darfur.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said more than than 70 civilians were also killed in Hashaba, north Darfur, between September 25 and 27 in fighting and aerial bombardments between rebels and the Sudanese government forces.