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Sudan accusses SLA-Minnawi of attacking UNAMID peacekeepers

July 14, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has accused the rebel Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) of a “brutal” assault on Saturday against troops belonging to the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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A UNAMID police woman who recovers in the UNAMID hospital in Nyala after an attack on their patrol Saturday received the visit of the UNAMID leadership (from left to right), the Joint Special Representative, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Police Commissioner, Hester Andriana Paneras, and the acting Force Commander, Lieutenant General Paul Ignace Mella from Tanzania on Sunday 14 July 2013. (Photo by Albert González Farran, UNAMID)

Unidentified gunmen attacked a UNAMID patrol in South Darfur state 25 kilometers west of the UNAMID base in Khor Abeche, killing seven Tanzanian soldiers.

Seventeen peacekeepers were also wounded including two female police officers.

In a statement issued by Sudan’s foreign ministry, the government underscored its commitment to conduct an urgent investigation into the incident and bring perpetrators to justice.

The government stressed that SLA-MM and its Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) allies pose the biggest threat to peace in the region.

The statement called upon the international community to take serious steps to end the attacks of “criminal” rebel groups and to hold the perpetrators accountable for these crimes against humanity as well as stop all forms of cooperation and support rendered to them.

The foreign ministry further noted that the attack represents a desperate attempt to abort the noble task undertaken by the UNAMID and to undermine the peace process in Darfur particularly as the region is witnessing a remarkable improvement in the security situation.

The foreign ministry stressed that the “cowardly” attack will not discourage the government from continuing its efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in Darfur and provide all kinds of support and cooperation for the UNAMID.

On Saturday the SLA-MM issued a statement condemning the deadly attack. The rebels claimed that government militias were responsible and said it was regrettable that UNAMID is unable to protect itself even though it is tasked with protecting civilians.

Nyala, South Darfur state’s capital, and surrounding areas have recently witnessed recently several attacks conducted by former members of government militias.

On 3 July, unknown assailants ambushed a UNAMID patrol in Lavado, East Darfur. Three Nigerian peacekeepers were wounded and one of attackers was killed.

Since January the hybrid mission has played an important role in providing vital aid to civilians affected by tribal clashes in different areas which have escalated in recent months.