KHARTOUM, Sudan, (AP) – Gunmen fatally shot a 39-year-old Sudanese relief worker in western Darfur, his Canadian-based aid agency said Tuesday.
The killing comes as tensions are escalating in Darfur after an international court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president for war crimes there. In response, President Omar al-Bashir expelled 13 foreign aid agencies from Darfur, accusing them of cooperating with the court — raising fears of a backlash against humanitarian groups in the vast western Sudanese region.
Adam Khater, who was the Fellowship for African Relief’s Darfur director, was shot to death at his home on Monday night in the town of Kongo Haraza, near Sudan’s border with Chad, said the Mark Simmons, country director for the Ontario-based organization.
Simmons said Khater’s vehicle was ambushed Saturday night and he believed that attack was related to Monday’s killing.
“This area is dangerous for aid groups,” Simmons, who is based in Khartoum, told The Associated Press by telephone.
The joint United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur confirmed the killing and said it was under investigation. It had no futher details.
It is not known whether Khater’s death was related to the International Criminal Court warrant against al-Bashir. Sudanese officials have said the tribunal’s decision has encouraged lawlessness.
The shooting death comes less than two weeks after three foreign aid workers and one local colleague were kidnapped in Darfur by what one local governor said was a group seeking to retaliate for the ICC’s warrant. The Doctors Without Borders workers were released three days later.
The Netherlands-based court has accused al-Bashir of orchestrating atrocities against civilians in Darfur, where his Arab-led government has been battling ethnic African rebels since 2003. Up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million have been driven from their homes. Al-Bashir has rejected the charges.