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Five African Nations Pledge Troops for Darfur Mission

Five African nations have pledged to contribute troops to the joint U.N.-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Sa'id Djninnit said Thursday that Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia have offered troops for the mission.

Nigeria already has troops in Darfur as part of an African Union force that has been unable to stop the region's violence.

On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing up to 26,000 U.N. and AU peacekeepers in Darfur. Sudan has said it will accept the force and will cooperate with its implementation.

Fully manned, the force would be the largest peacekeeping operation in the world.

France has also offered soldiers for the force, while several other countries have offered logistical staff.

The U.N. resolution calls for a joint force consisting of more than 19,000 military personnel, backed by more than 6,000 civilian security officers. Most of the combined force is not expected to be in Darfur until next year.

The conflict between Darfur rebels and the Sudanese government broke out in early 2003. U.N. officials estimate the conflict has since killed more than 200,000 people, and displaced more than two million others.

Khartoum is accused of supporting militias blamed for atrocities that include murder, rape and the destruction of villages. Sudanese officials deny those claims and also claim a much lower death toll.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.