*Ban Ki-Moon condemns killings
KIGALI - Unidentified gunmen in camouflage Monday morning attacked a group of Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) serving in the African Union-United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) killing three and wounding one.
In an interview with The New Times, the UNAMID Force Commander, Lt. Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, confirmed the attack that took place in Nertiti, Western Darfur.
“It is true we lost three peacekeepers and one wounded in an indiscriminate attack, but I would like to state that the force won’t be deterred or intimidated from carrying out its duty,” Nyamvumba said over the phone from Sudan.
He said that the wounded peacekeeper was taken to the mission’s hospital in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.
He added that the attack targeted the 49th Battalion commanded by Col. Callixte Kanimba and that the RDF is yet to inform the next of kin of the unidentified soldiers.
According to Nyamvumba, it is too early to pinpoint who the perpetrators of the attack are in the volatile Sudanese region.
“The situation is volatile. As I speak, there is an area where tribal crashes are going on. It is very unpredictable,” he said.
Defence Spokesperson Lt. Col Jill Rutaremara said that the RDF strongly condemned the attack which targeted innocent peacekeepers and civilians.
“They were guarding a construction site and our soldiers fought back and killed 3 of the assailants,” said Rutaremara.
“RDF strongly condemns this barbaric act which targeted innocent peacekeepers and civilians. The assailants will be pursued”.
It is reported that more than 20 assailants opened fire without warning on the RDF soldiers as they provided security to civilian engineers working near the West Darfur village of Nertiti.
The attack occurred slightly over a month after two peacekeepers were slain while conducting a routine patrol in South Darfur, and takes the number of UNAMID peacekeepers who have been murdered in Darfur since the mission began operations in January 2008 to 27.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led UN officials in deploring the attack, saying in a statement issued by his spokesperson that the Sudanese Government must make every effort to apprehend the assailants.
“The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who lost their lives and to the Government of Rwanda and reiterates his appreciation for their service and commitment to the search for peace in Darfur,” the statement added.
Mohamed B. Yonis, the Deputy Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, voiced outrage at the attack and praised the peacekeepers for their courage. He also said the mission would not be deterred from its work.
“Our mission will continue to carry out its mandate, which is to bring peace and security to the people of Darfur,” Mr. Yonis said.