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Peacekeepers Attacked In Darfur

A convoy under the protection of peacekeepers from the African Union Mission, in Sudan, was ambushed in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

State Department acting spokesman, Gonzalo Gallegos, says the U.S. "condemns the attack by unknown assailants. . . .that killed two. . . .soldiers and wounded several others." Mr. Gallegos says the U.S. calls on the Sudanese government to arrest those who participated in the attack against the African Union peacekeepers and to prosecute them. The U.S., he says, "also call[s] upon all groups in Darfur to refrain from violent attacks, recognize their responsibilities, and abide by the Darfur Peace Agreement."

Originally, fighting broke out in 2003, after rebels complained the region had been marginalized by the central government. In response to rebel attacks against government facilities, the Sudanese government armed a militia called the Janjaweed. More than two-hundred-thousand people have died from fighting, famine, and disease. Some two million are living in refugee camps inside and outside Sudan. The government and the largest Darfur rebel group signed a peace agreement in May in Abuja, Nigeria. But the violence continues.

The African Union decided in March of this year to transition its seven-thousand member force in Darfur to a U-N peacekeeping mission. The U.S. and Britain have introduced a draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the deployment of U-N peacekeepers in Darfur.

The U.S. strongly believes the Sudanese government must do its part to enable the African Union Mission in Sudan to transition to a U-N peacekeeping mission by October 1. Mr. Gallegos says, "this violence is another indication of the lack of security that exists in Darfur, which continues to result in the deaths of innocent civilians and aid workers, and hinders the distribution of life-saving humanitarian assistance." He says a U-N, "force must deploy without delay":

"Only a large, mobile, fast-reacting and robust U-N force, with African forces is capable of stopping the fighting, protecting civilians and humanitarian workers, allowing for continued and full implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, and providing a safe and secure environment where internally displaced persons and refugees of Darfur can return to their homes."

Mr. Gallegos says the U.S. calls on Sudan, "to enable this transition to move forward."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.