KHARTOUM, (Reuters) – Two Rwandan peacekeepers were shot dead and one was wounded in Sudan’s Darfur region on Saturday, the second attack on their contingent in 24 hours, the force said.
At least one gunman opened fire on the soldiers as they distributed water in a refugee camp in north Darfur, the joint U.N./African Union force said, a day after three Rwandan soldiers were killed in an ambush as they escorted a water tanker.
UNAMID spokesman Kemal Saiki said it was too early to say whether the attacks were linked. The shooting brought to 22 the number of peacekeepers killed since the undermanned and underequipped force started work in January 2008.
UNAMID, which is supposed to keep the peace in a territory about the size of Spain, has faced threats and harassment from Sudanese government troops, the United Nations reported last month, and has also been targeted by bandit gangs active in the remote western region. Khartoum dismissed the U.N. report.
Saiki said the Rwandans were distributing water to residents of a refugee camp in the settlement of Shangil Tobay, about 65 km (40 miles) south of the capital of north Darfur El Fasher. “At least one armed man walked up and opened fire without warning. Two of the peacekeepers were killed on the spot,” Saiki said. “We don’t know if this was an attempted car-jacking or a random attack. We have no idea of motives or the identity of the attacker.” He said a third Rwandan soldier was wounded.
Three Rwandan soldiers were killed and two wounded in an ambush near the north Darfur settlement of Saraf Omra, about 200 km east of El fasher, on Friday.
UNAMID said it was investigating the cause of the attack, but suspected the gunmen may have been trying to steal a vehicle.
Law and order has collapsed more than six years after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Sudan’s government, accusing it of neglecting the region.
Sudan’s government mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising. Violence has diminished in recent years, replaced in many areas by a free-for-all involving rival tribes, rebel splinter groups and bandits.
Estimates of the death toll range from 300,000 according to U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes, to 10,000 according to Khartoum.