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Chad gunmen kill AU peacekeeper - Sudan

Jan 7, 2005 (CAIRO) - A Sudanese military official said on Saturday armed Chadians killed an African Union (AU) peacekeeper and wounded at least 10 others in an attack in the Darfur region near the Sudan-Chad border.

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Africa Union armoured vehicles deploy in Sudan’s Darfur region town of el-Fasher November 18, 2005. (Reuters)

But a spokesman from one of the two main rebel groups fighting in Darfur said the attack, which came a day after Chad said Sudanese militiamen killed nine civilians in a cross-border raid, had been carried out by the Sudanese army.

"There was an attack on the African Union near the border with Chad in which one soldier died ... The forces who carried out the attack are from Chad and are the responsibility of the Chadian authorities," the Sudanese official told Reuters.

Chad’s government denied any involvement in the assault.

"There are no Chadian patrols in Darfur at the moment. This is disinformation," Chad’s Communication Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor told Reuters.

Officials from the African Union, which has more than 6,000 peacekeepers in Darfur, were not immediately available for a comment.

It was not clear whether the armed men were from the Chadian army or were government-linked tribesmen, the Sudanese military official added.

"The attackers took one of the AU cars ... the wounded were moved to a hospital in the area," said the official, who did not want to give his name.

Mahjoub Hussein, a spokesman for a wing of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) which has troops in the area, blamed Khartoum for the attack.

"It was the Sudan government’s army that attacked the African Union people," he said.

Relations between Chad and Sudan have taken a dive after N’Djamena accused Khartoum of supporting Chadian army rebels who last month launched a failed attack on a border town with Sudan.

Rebels in Darfur launched a revolt against Khartoum in early 2003 complaining of neglect and marginalisation. Chad says the Sudanese government is using conflict to destabilise other states in the region.

(Reuters)