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Sudan Tribune

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Armed bandits continue to hijack cars in Darfur

November 21, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Armed bandits continue to wage attacks on private and UN vehicles across Darfur, especially in the south of the war-torn Sudanese region, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported yesterday.

An estimated 30 bandits stopped commercial trucks on the weekend on a South Darfur road about 70 kilometres southeast of Nyala, the provincial capital, and exchanged fire with five soldiers from the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) who were escorting the convoy.

UNMIS News bulletin said two people were killed and two others injured during the exchange, although the identity of the dead remain unknown. The PDF soldiers are reported to have gone missing after the incident, while the attackers stole two of the trucks.

A second convoy on its way to Nyala was later stopped at the same location, but the convoy was allowed to proceed after an hour without being looted.

In a separate incident last Thursday, UNMIS reported that three armed men stopped a UN vehicle with two UN staff members aboard near the UN Office in Nyala. The staff suffered slight injuries after they were assaulted by the attackers and had their personal belongings looted.

After a drive of about 10 minutes, the attackers let the staff members out and took off with the vehicle, which remains missing.

Informed sources told Sudan Tribune that stolen vehicles are sold in Chad where a flourishing business for cars and satellite telephones is taking place there. Even there is no need for forged papers or any papers the source said.

The planed deployment of European and international troops in in the Chadian border and in Darfur is expected to diminish this kind of banditry.

The attacks by armed bandits are taking place amid concerted international efforts, led by the UN and the African Union, to bring peace to Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied militias since 2003.

In the past four years more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others displaced from their homes because of the violence, while an estimated 4 million now depend on humanitarian aid for survival.