An ambush on a United Nations patrol in South Darfur today left seven peacekeepers dead along with 17 military and police personnel. In the deadliest attack the international effort has experienced since it arrived in the region in 2008, the team came under heavy fire from an unidentified group armed with machine guns and possibly rocket-propelled grenades, according to a spokesman for the UN. A representative for the mission has condemned the heinous attack and warned those guilty for the ambush that, "the perpetrators should be on notice that they will be pursued for this crime and gross violation of international humanitarian law."
"Law and order has collapsed in much of Darfur, where mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, which they accuse of discriminating against them.
Violence has surged since January as government forces, rebels and Arab tribes, armed by Khartoum early in the conflict, fight over resources and land. Peacekeepers often get attacked when they try to find out what is happening on the ground.
A large group of unknown gunmen attacked a patrol in an area in South Darfur where peacekeeping is the responsibility of Tanzanian forces, the African Union/United Nations-led UNAMID force said. Reinforcements managed to rescue the peacekeepers after an "extended firefight"'.
Two of the 17 wounded soldiers and police officers were female, UNAMID said.
A U.N. source said that most of the casualties were probably Tanzanians.