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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Peacekeeping helicopter hit by gunfire in Darfur

August 11, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — A Helicopter of the hybrid peacekeeping force was shot in western Darfur by gunfire today as the U.S. envoy to Sudan visiting the headquarters of the mission.

The plane was come under fire in the area of Jebel Moon, West Darfur State, and was forced to return to its base. The UNAMID spokesperson said they are not aware of who fired the helicopter.

However according to Reuters, the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said it had shot at a white helicopter in the area, but believed it had been from the government’s Central Reserve Police.

The United Nations has in the past urged the Sudanese government not to use white aircraft that resemble its own, saying it endangered the peacekeepers.

The governor of West Darfur Abu Algassim Imam said the plane was shot during a flight from Al-Geneina to Kulbus, and returned to base in the capital of West Darfur with no casualties.

In the same time, US envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson, Monday visited the AU-UN peacekeeping mission headquarters in El Fasher, where he was briefed on the work of the UNAMID, the status of its deployment, as well as the challenges facing the mission.

Williamson expressed his concern over the slow deployment of UNAMID and urged the mission to do everything possible to “speed up its deployment,” to enable it to better protect the civilians and its own Peacekeepers.

The visiting envoy was referring to the 8 July ambush where seven peacekeeper were killed and 29 others injured

The force took over peacekeeping duties in January from a beleaguered African Union force, but is still operating with only about a third of its authorized 26,000 soldiers. It also lacks sufficient combat and rescue helicopters.

(ST)

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