Pakistani Peacekeeper Killed In UN Mission In Sudan


(MENAFN- IANS) United Nations, Jan 30 (IANS) A Pakistani peacekeeper has been killed in an attack by an armed group in the Abyei area that is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, according to the UN.

The peacekeeper with UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was killed on Sunday while transporting civilians to a hospital, the mission said on Monday.

This was the second attack on peacekeepers in two days during which a Ghanian peacekeeper was killed on Saturday.

The UN identified neither the victims nor their attackers.

Media reports quoting Abeyi officials attributed the attacks to armed gangs from South Sudan's Warrap State.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "deeply concerned by the violence" in which several civilians were also killed, his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

Guterres "condemns the violence and attacks against the peacekeeping force and calls on the governments of South Sudan and Sudan to swiftly investigate the attacks", he added.

Abyei, an area of about 10,000 square kilometres rich in oil and minerals, is claimed by Sudan and by South Sudan, which gained independence from it in 2011.

The Security Council set up UNISFA that year to maintain peace between the two countries and to protect civilians.

In addition to the confrontation between the two countries that is now largely contained, conflicts between the Dinka and Nuer tribes and also factions within them have flared up in the area.

UNISFA said that had allowed people facing imminent threats to take refuge in some of its camps.

On Sunday, "while transporting affected civilians from a UNISFA base to a hospital, peacekeepers came under heavy fire, during which a Pakistani peacekeeper was killed and four uniformed personnel and one local civilian sustained injury", UNISFA said.

Of UNISFA's 2,587 troops, 571 peacekeepers were from Pakistan.

So far, 169 Pakistani peacekeepers have been killed while serving in UN operations, according to the UN.

The UNISFA's Deputy Commander Brigadier Abu Syed Mohammod Bakir is from Bangladesh.

The UN has a separate operation, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), to keep the peace between warring factions there.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at ... and followed at @arulouis)

--IANS

arul/svn

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