October 22, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — The hybrid mission in Darfur suspects that the latest attack on its peacekeepers meant to keep them away from investigating violence against civilians in Hashaba area of North Darfur.
On 17 October, UNAMID dispatched a verification mission to Hashaba North, at 56 kilometres northeast of Kutum in North Darfur, to probe an attack on civilians there which occurred last month. But unidentified gunmen stormed the 16 vehicle convey using "high-calibre weapons".
The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which has fighters in an adjacent area accused the government’s militia of the attack, after indicating that its fighters were in contact with human rights monitors who were part of the convoy.
Last September some 70 civilians died in Hashaba following clashes in September between the government troops and rebels there. A UNAMID assessment team had already visited the area on 3 October after the fighting.
"This well-prepared attack against (the) UNAMID verification mission could mean that it was deliberately carried out to prevent the mission from accessing Hashaba and assessing the situation following recent reports of violence in the area," said the Mission’s spokesperson Aicha Elbasri.
In statements to the Agence France Presse, she said that a third mission will be sent to Hashaba stressing that UNAMID’s principal mandate is to protect civilians.
Aicha further reiterated UNAMID’s call to the Sudanese government to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The mission lost a South African soldier who was killed and three others wounded during the morning attack which brings to 43 the number of peacekeepers killed in Darfur since January 2008.
South Africa’s Department of Foreign Relations joined the calls by the UN chief Ban-Ki-moon and Security Council to probe the incident and to bring the assailants to justice.
Pretoria further underscored that it is "disconcerting that the peace deal reached between the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and the Sudanese Government last year has yet to take effect and that most opposition and rebel movements remain outside of the peace processes, perpetuating instability in Darfur."
The South African foreign ministry further welcomed the "renewed talks" in Doha between the government and a rebel faction called on "all parties" to engage constructively in the process to bring Darfur and Sudan as a whole to peace.