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Armed men carjack ambulance in North Darfur abandoning pregnant woman

June 10, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Armed men last Saturday carjacked an ambulance transporting a pregnant woman to a hospital in North Darfur leaving the woman on the roadside.

SLA fighters loyal to leader Minni Minawi ride at the back of a pick-up truck outside El-Fasher in North Darfur (Photo: Reuters)Local reporters and the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported incident while Sudanese officials accused the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement- Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) of abducting the medical vehicle.

The ambulance was ambushed in Drouk valley, 30 kilometres northeast from Dar Assalam, North Darfur. The woman was later rescued by a local vehicle and transported to El-Fasher hospital.

The mayor of the town, Hadi Ahmed Hassan, accused the SLM-MM of carjacking the ambulance which was heading to the hospital and abandoning the woman despite her dangerous situation. He stressed that the assailants, ridding three vehicles, captured the ambulance and abducted its driver.

UNAMID estimated that the attack was carried out by some "30 assailants affiliated with an armed movement from the area."

The joint mission which is tasked with the protection of civilians in Darfur, issued Sunday a statement to condemn "in the strongest terms the criminal act by a group of armed men".

Aichatou Mindaoudou, deputy head of the hybrid mission, said outraged by the attack. She further urged to investigate "this crime" and proposed to extend the full support of the UNMAID to conduct the investigation.

"Such shocking acts of criminality should not be tolerated. Impunity must not have a place in Darfur and the rights of women are to be fully protected," stressed the Nigerien diplomat.

Darfur rebels from the three main groups opposed to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur intensified their attacks recently after a relative calm in the region since the signing of Doha peace deal in July 2011.

Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said Saturday they attacked a military garrison in Um Ajajah, in East Darfur state and seized 20 vehicles. The army confirmed the attack but said it had no troops there. It further accused the assailants of looting the area.

Osman Kibir, North Darfur governor on 9 June, admitted that government closed the Nyala El-Fasher road saying rebels attacks vehicles and buses looting their belonging. He stressed that vehicles should be escorted to protect civilians.

Sudanese official justify the recent surge of violence in Darfur by the alleged support South Sudanese government provides to the rebel groups who formed a new alliance with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement –North.

REDUCING UNAMID PRESENCE IN DARFUR

Sudanese government demands since the signing of the Doha peace document to reduce the world’s largest peacekeeping mission saying violence dwindles in the region. Khartoum also says the mission, despite its will, becomes the main provider of food, fuel and ammunition to the rebels.

The rebels intercept or attack the different patrols carried out by the peacekeepers to protect civilians in the isolated areas and Darfur camps or to escort humanitarian assistance . The blue helmets often prefer to not clash with the assailants who confiscate the escorted convoy or capture their weapons.

The undersecretary of foreign ministry, Rahmatallah Mohamed Osman reiterated today the Sudanese demand of reducing the UNAMID force in a meeting he held with a Brtish diplomat form the UK mission to the United Nations.

Rahmatallah told the visiting Catherine Myss that the UN needs to redirect its resources to support of rehabilitation and early recovery programmes in the region.

He also briefed her on the steps taken by Khartoum to implement the Doha document with the former rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) the only rebel group to sign the peace document.

The British diplomat pointed out that its delegation which will visit the peacekeeping operation in El-Fasher, aims to study the Sudanese demand of reducing the UNAMID force. She pointed out that their visit includes South and West Darfur.

A tripartite meeting including the Afiracn union, Sudan and the United Nations was held in Addis Ababa last March to discuss the issue but some western countries fear that such unpopular measure might be criticized by rights defenders.

(ST)