Peacekeeper shot dead in attack on Darfur base

Published: Updated:

A peacekeeper was shot dead Friday in an attack on an African Union-U.N. base in Darfur, the mission said, two days after the government announced it regained control of the area from rebels.

“In the early morning hours of 19 April, one peacekeeper of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was shot dead and two others injured in an attack by unidentified assailants on the mission’s team site near Muhagiriya,” the mission’s spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri said in a statement.

A rare 10-day rebel occupation of Muhagiriya and Labado in southern Darfur ended on Wednesday when the Sudanese army announced it “liberated” the area but the insurgents said they withdrew in the face of massive force.

The Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction on April 6 began their occupation of the two communities strategically located about 100 kilometers east of the South Darfur state capital Nyala, one of Sudan’s largest cities.

Darfur’s insurgents normally stage hit-and-run attacks.

“Yes, we withdrew from Muhagiriya and Labado,” said rebel spokesman Abdullah Moursal.

He said the government had sent two “huge” convoys of troops, one from the west and one from the east, and these were backed by air strikes.

The government had already regained control of Labado on Tuesday after fierce fighting which resulted in the deaths of four civilians and the wounding of six others, UNAMID said.

Thousands of civilians had sought shelter around peacekeepers’ camps in the district since the initial fighting, and the UN had been calling for access to assist them.

Minnawi and other ethnic rebels in Sudan’s far-western Darfur region rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003.

Rebel splinter factions signed a 2011 peace deal with the government but Minnawi and other major insurgent groups rejected the agreement.

While the worst of the violence has long passed, instability has been complicated by inter-Arab fighting, kidnappings, carjacking and other crimes, many suspected to be the work of government-linked militia and paramilitary groups.

Sudanese Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed said in statements published Thursday that Darfur is largely calm “except some looting operations carried out by the rebel movements” and attacks on commercial convoys.