The special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union in the Sudan, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, regrets to confirm with deep sorrow that two members of the 29th Battalion of the Nigerian Army serving with the AMIS in Sector 2, South Darfur, were killed in action on the 8th October, 2005, near Menawasha on the Khor Abeche road. In the incidence, four other soldiers were wounded and two are missing. Also, two civilian drivers, employees of an AMIS contractor, the PAE of the United States of America, were sadly killed.
While investigations are continuing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incidence and if there were any further civilian casualties, the facts of the case as we now know them are as follows.
In the morning of the 8th October, an AMIS Patrol team from Khor Abeche Group Site on a routine mission on the Khor Abeche-Nyala road came upon a robbery incident and assisted two of the critically wounded victims to Nyala hospital. On their way back to base, at about 1745 hours, not long after they had passed Menawasha, they again came upon a robbery incident, this time involving one PAE truck and a PAE tanker. The Patrol team got off their vehicles and took up position while the apparent robbers did the same further ahead. In the exchange of fire that ensured, the AMIS Patrol team and the PAE drivers suffered the casualties referred to.
The AMIS soldiers clearly identified their attackers as men dressed in SLA uniform and that they escaped in typical SLA vehicles into which they loaded their own casualty. The AMIS dead and the wounded were evacuated to El Fasher at around 2000 hours when darkness hampered further rescue efforts to locate those missing. These efforts have continued this morning.
From the foregoing account, all the evidence shows SLA direct responsibility for the incidence. Apart from the positive identification of the attackers and their vehicles, the area where the incidence occurred is generally an SLA controlled territory with a history of previous SLA interference with, and attacks on, AMIS Patrol teams. Consequently, and without prejudice to the outcome of ongoing investigations, the AMIS holds the SLA solely responsible for this dastardly and unacceptable act which we condemn in the strongest possible terms. The AMIS Force Commander is making a strong demarche personally with the Secretary General of the SLA, Mr. Mini Minawi Arkoi, to whom the SLA elements in the Khor Abeche area profess their loyalty.
This tragic incidence is yet another serious indicator of the escalation of the insecurity and violence witnessed in Darfur over the last five weeks. The most disturbing trend in these recent incidences is the deliberate targeting of unarmed civilians in the villages and the IDP camps, attacks on innocent humanitarian workers, and the shoot-to-kill policy against the AMIS personnel and others.
As we have previously observed, the AMIS does not wish to be drawn into direct propaganda, personal attacks or armed confrontation with any of the Sudanese parties to the conflict in Darfur. However, the AMIS is determined, in the light of these recent developments, to acquire the necessary capability not only to protect its own personnel, but innocent civilians and humanitarian workers whose vital and indispensable activities must go on. In this connection, the AMIS hopes that all impediments to the immediate deployment of the 105 AMIS APCs will now be removed to enable our forces better protect.
The special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union in the Sudan once again urges all the parties to comply with the N’Djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement and the two related Abuja Protocols and to fully cooperate with the AMIS in the discharge of the very responsibilities with which the parties themselves entrusted us. It hardly bears repeating that for as long as the parties continue to violate the Ceasefire Agreements they have signed, so long will any political negotiations be hampered. The Sudanese parties must show by their conduct on the ground that they have the will and commitment to end the long suffering of their people in Darfur through serious and sincere political negotiations. The ongoing 6th round of the Abuja Peace Talks offers the best opportunity to demonstrate the required seriousness, will and commitment.
Khartoum, 9 October, 2005