KHARTOUM — Two Egyptian peacekeepers serving with the joint UN-African Union mission in Darfur were killed in an ambush on Friday, UNAMID said, describing the attack as a "war crime."
Three other Egyptians were badly wounded when they were attacked in the war-torn western region of Sudan, the peacekeeping force's communications chief Kemal Saiki told AFP.
Saiki, reading from a statement, said that the victims were in a UNAMID convoy when they came under fire in South Darfur at mid-morning from unidentified gunmen.
"Today at about 11:30 am (1430 GMT) a military convoy from UNAMID?s Egyptian contingent, with three vehicles and 20 personnel, was ambushed near Katila village, 85 kilometres (53 miles) south of Edd al-Fursan, South Darfur, by a group of unidentified armed men who indiscriminately opened fire, without warning, on the peacekeepers," he said.
"The attackers fled when the convoy returned fire. The attack left two peacekeepers killed in action and three seriously wounded."
UNAMID special representative Ibrahim Gambari expressed "outrage at this cowardly attack," according to the statement.
In New York, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said: "The secretary-general is equally incensed" by this attack.
The joint UN-African Union mission called on the Sudanese government "to identify, capture and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice and reminds all parties that any attack against peacekeepers constitutes a war crime."
The statement also said that UNAMID "remains undaunted and unwavering in its commitment to carrying out its mandate in the service of peace" despite the bloodshed.
"There is absolutely no reason why our peacekeepers should have been attacked. This is a criminal act of violence that we are forcefully denouncing," Saiki said on UN radio.
Friday's latest deaths bring to 24 the number of UNAMID members killed in Darfur since the force was deployed there in January 2008.
AU chief Jean Ping also confirmed the deaths earlier in a statement to AFP in Addis Ababa, expressing "shock and regret" at the deaths of the two Egyptians.
In April four South African peacekeepers who had been held in Darfur were freed unharmed after 15 days in captivity.
Their abductors said the kidnapping occurred in order to show the world "that security conditions in Darfur did not allow for elections".
The kidnapping came as Sudan was holding its first contested elections in more than two decades, including in war-torn Darfur.
Election observers from the European Union had pulled out of the western region, where ethnic rebels have been fighting government troops and allied Arab militia for six years, citing a lack of security.
Over the past year, Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings of aid workers and expatriates in general.
According to the United Nations, 300,000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes since rebels in Darfur rose up against the Khartoum government which was aided by local Arab militias, in February 2003.
The Sudan government puts the death toll at 10,000.
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