Seven UN peacekeeper were killed and twenty-two others injured last night when UNAMID peacekeeping forces were ambushed by a local militia group. The attack took place in the evening hours during a patrol by peacekeeping forces in northern town of Omhabiba, 100 miles north of the UNAMID headquarters. 

UNAMID spokesperson Shereen Zorba says ?that this is the worst attack that the UN mission has to endure so far ?. She says such attacks impede humanitarian work and strains UNAMID peacekeeping efforts. ?We call on the international community to fulfill their pledge to strengthen UNAMID?this would allow us to do our jobs, without our forces unnecessarily sacrificing their lives,? she says.

UNAMID has a mandate to ?support the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, and prevent the disruption of its implementation and armed attacks, and protect civilians, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan. In this latest attack, militia forces targeted peacekeepers returning to base after an investigation into the death of two SLA Minawi faction fighters allegedly murdered by Arab militia.

Zorba says command and control remains a big problem in Sudan as various militia forces maintain a hostile stance towards UNAMID.  ?In our areas of operations, many people in many of these groups realize the kind of value in terms of security that we bring to the civilian community,? she says.
However, the dilemma facing UNAMID forces is that some of the same factions they work with in one area attack them in other areas of Darfur. Zorba says, ?So there is obviously a lack of command and support among these groups. It is hard to explain the motivation behind such attacks. Sometimes it is just plain robbery.? she says.

She adds, ?Other complex explanations are possible. But at the end of the day, we are there for the good of the people.?