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Security Council Formally Condemns Darfur Attack


The U.N. Security Council has formally condemned Monday's attack on a U.N.-African Union supply convoy in Sudan's Darfur region, and threatened action against any party obstructing the peace process. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Security Council members unanimously approved a U.S.-sponsored statement that strongly condemned the attack carried out by "elements of the Sudanese Armed Forces as confirmed by the UN African Union Mission in Darfur" known as UNAMID.

The Council warned that any attack or threat against the peacekeepers is unacceptable, and welcomed the Sudanese government's offer to conduct a joint investigation of the incident with the United Nations and African Union.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says it must be determined why the attack happened and those responsible for it must be brought to justice. Pending the outcome of the investigation, Ambassador Khalilzad says the Council could take a variety of steps.

"Further decisions by the Security Council; assigning responsibility on particular parties; taking punitive actions also is in that mix, including sanctions. It covers a broad range of possible steps that the Security Council could decide on," he said.

The ambassador says there are a variety of sanctions the Council could choose from, including economic, political or military ones.

The Sudanese government has waffled on whether its military was responsible for the attack. First Khartoum denied it, then its defense minister issued a statement accepting responsibility but saying it was a mistake. Friday, he distanced himself from that statement.

Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Mohamad says his government did not authorize the attack, and he dismissed the Security Council's statement. "We don't think that there is condemnation against Sudan's government. The text itself is speaking about "elements", [and] "elements" can mean anything," he said.

In its statement the Council also expressed concern about the deterioration of security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and called for all member states to help accelerate the deployment of the peacekeeping force. The force currently stands at nine thousand troops, but its goal is 26,000.

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