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UN Condemns Attack on AU Peacekeepers in Darfur

The U.N. Security Council has condemned an attack on African Union peacekeepers in the Darfur region of Sudan, saying any attempt to undermine the peace process is "unacceptable." The attack killed at least 10 soldiers and was the deadliest on the African peacekeepers since they arrived in the region three years ago. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The Security Council statement comes at the end of two days of consultations. A meeting late Monday ended with council members unable to agree on language for a formal statement.

Diplomats say there was disagreement over naming the suspected perpetrators of the attack on the camp in Haskanita. Many felt factions from certain rebel groups were responsible, while others wanted a thorough investigation before pointing fingers.

Ghanaian Ambassador Leslie Christian, the Security Council president for October, read out the statement. "The Security Council was briefed on first October on the recent attack on African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita, South Darfur, Sudan, reportedly committed by a rebel group. The Council condemns this murderous attack and demands that no effort be spared so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice," he said.

The statement goes on to say that the council deplores the fact that the attack comes just weeks before peace talks are to start in Libya, under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union. "The council underlines that any attempts to undermine the peace process is unacceptable," he said.

Speaking after the emergency session, Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Mohamad welcomed the Council's condemnation and said there is no doubt rebels were involved. "We are happy that the Security Council has now identified the perpetrators of this heinous act, and we expect the Security Council will take the necessary measures against those impeding the peace process," he said.

But Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, expressed disappointment, saying the statement was not strong enough. "We wish it were stronger, but we have to live with what was practical and possible. There were some members of the Security Council for whom, unfortunately, it is difficult for some reason, to point fingers at rebel groups. There was an effort to avoid any kind of reference to rebel groups, which have reportedly been the source of this murderous attack," he said.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which the Sudanese government blames on factions of the two main rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Tuesday's Security Council statement did not name any group, and left the door open to the outcome of further investigation, saying only that rebels "reportedly" committed the attack.