Two civilians working with international peacekeepers in Sudan's
troubled Darfur region are missing following a raid on their residences.
spokesman for the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force says
the gunmen stormed into the town of Zalingei early Saturday morning and
seized a man and a woman.
The spokesman, Noureddine Menzi, says
this is the first kidnapping of staff members working for the
peacekeeping force. He also says the mission has contacted the
kidnappers, and that outgoing political chief, Rodolphe Adada, has
appealed for the release of the captives.
Zalingei is the
hometown of Abdel Wahid al-Nur, the leader of the Sudan Liberation
Movement (SLM), one of Darfur's main rebel groups. Al-Nur, speaking
from Paris, criticized the kidnapping and denied the SLM was involved,
but said it showed the weakness of the peacekeeping mission.
kidnapping is the fourth since March and comes just days after the
outgoing commander of the peacekeeping force, Martin Luther Agwai, said
the area no longer is in a state of war.
The mission's political
chief, Adada, previously angered some Western diplomats by calling the
situation in Darfur "a low-intensity conflict."
groups describe the situation in Darfur as a genocide. The United
Nations says up to 300,000 people have died over six years of fighting
between rebel groups and government forces.
Sudan puts the death toll much lower, at 10,000.
International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese
President Omar al-Bashir, whom it accuses of masterminding a campaign
of rape, murder and other crimes against Darfur civilians.
Mr. Bashir has rejected the court's authority and has repeatedly traveled abroad in defiance of the arrest warrant.
Meanwhile, at least 36 civilians are dead in southern Sudan, the result of a tribal cattle raid.
say gunmen from the Lou Nuer tribe attacked the settlement of Wernyol
in the Twic East region of Jonglei state on Friday in an attempt to
steal cattle from Dinka tribesmen. More than 50 people were wounded.
Clashes between rival ethnic groups break out frequently in southern Sudan.
The U.N. says at least 1,000 people have been killed as the result of inter-tribal violence this year.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.