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Sudan says no link between the killers of Darfur peacekeeper and its army

April 22, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese Foreign Ministry expressed its regret for the killing of a Nigerian peacekeeper last week in Muhajiriya area in southern Darfur, saying that the perpetrator has nothing to do with the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).

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Peacekeepers from the hybrid UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in the North Darfur capital, El-Fasher, on 5 July 2010 (Photo: Getty Images)

The soldier of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was killed last Friday under unknown circumstances by an armed man who is suspected to be a member of a pro-government militia.

Both Muhajiriya and Labado have been the scene of fierce fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and rebels from a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), who had seized control of the strategic towns on 6 April.

In statement issued on Monday, Sudan’s foreign ministry condemned the killing of the peacekeeper, saying that a joint investigation on the incident is now being conducted stressing that SAF and the government of the state of South Darfur are providing the necessary help for the investigation.

The ministry further said that investigations revealed that the perpetrator, who was killed during the assault, "Has nothing to do with SAF, and that the unfortunate incident occurred before SAF gained full control over the area".

Two other peacekeepers were wounded in the assault which took place two days after the Sudanese government announced it had regained control of the area from rebels on 17 April.

The US charge d’affaires to Sudan Joseph Stafford condemned the killing of the peacekeeper, saying that escalation in the acts of violence underscores the need for militia disarmament as well as other measures including a ceasefire between the government and rebels.

The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) was finalized at the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference in May 2011 in Doha. In mid-July of that year the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) led by Tijani Al-Sissi signed a protocol agreement committing them to the document.

Another faction of JEM led by Mohamed Bashar joined the DDPD in April 2013.

The Sudan Liberation Movement factions of Abdel-Wahid Nur (SLM-AW) and Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refused to sign the framework document and remain at war with Khartoum.

Stafford who spoke to reporters on Sunday, expressed grave concern about the reports of civilian casualties and deliberate targeting of civilians by militias in Muhajeria and Labado areas in southern Darfur state, adding that it was not yet clear who carried out the "deeply troubling" assault. stressing the "urgent" need for an investigation bringing those responsible to justice.

The foreign ministry further said that the government doesn’t impose restrictions on UNAMID, but it applies some measures and controls on the movement of its staff in areas of military operations aimed primarily at protecting their lives.

UNAMID had previously appealed to Khartoum to allow its staff as well as other aid groups to enter Muhajeria and Labado to provide humanitarian assistance for the 18 thousand people living in the two areas.

(ST)