Khartoum, Sudan — A peacekeeper with the international mission in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region has shot dead three comrades and killed himself, the mission spokesperson said on Friday.
“I confirm that four of the UNAMID peacekeepers were killed and one of them was injured due to gunshots fired by one of the peacekeepers,” Aicha Elbasri of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur told AFP.
The dead included “the one that fired the gunshots,” she said, adding that the incident took place on Thursday at a UNAMID base in Mukjar, West Darfur.
“The mission is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Elbasri said.
She said she did not know the nationalities of the peacekeepers involved.
In October five other peacekeepers died in hostile action.
A South African member of the force was killed during an ambush en route to the Hashaba area of North Darfur, and four Nigerians lost their lives in an attack near El-Geneina, West Darfur.
The attack on the Nigerians was the deadliest in UNAMID history, according to UN sources.
The October killings brought to 43 the number of UNAMID troops killed in hostile action in the nearly five-year history of the world’s largest peacekeeping mission.
UNAMID has a mandate to protect civilians in Sudan’s far-west region, where rebels began an uprising against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government almost a decade ago.
Although violence is down from its peak, villages have been razed and rebel-government fighting, banditry and inter-Arab and tribal disputes continue to afflict the region.
The shooting came on the same day that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission, named the peacekeeping mission’s new head.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas of Ghana will lead more than 21,000 soldiers and police officers as UNAMID’s Joint Special Representative.
“Mr Chambas brings to this position extensive experience after a long and distinguished career in both international and governmental fora,” Ban and Zuma said in a statement.
Chambas was president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from 2006 to 2009, after earlier serving as its executive secretary.
Most recently he was secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.
In the 1990s Chambas was involved in mediation efforts in Liberia, which was engulfed in civil war.
“It’s probably not a bad appointment,” an African diplomat told AFP. “I think he’s got good experience.”
UNAMID has expressed “grave concern” about an upsurge of violence in parts of Darfur, and on Friday warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe after reports of renewed displacement of civilians by alleged air strikes and other attacks.
Elbasri, UNAMID’s spokesperson, said the mission had received reports that people had been displaced from villages in the Shangil Tobay and Tawila areas of North Darfur.