Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The African Union (AU) has expressed "deep shock and sadness" over the killing of five Senegalese troops who were serving under the protection force of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS).
In a statement issued Tuesday, AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare paid tribute to the gallant men and women of AMIS who are deployed in the restive Darfur region of western Sudan "under the most difficult and under-appreciated circumstances.
" The Senegalese troops were killed on 1 April 2007 at a water point in Umbaro area, the AU Commission said.
The incident, blamed on forces loyal to Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (Minni), followed an attempt to assassinate AMIS Deputy Force Commander, Brig.
Ephreim Rurangwa, whose helicopter was shot at on 31 March 2007 in Kurni area of Jebel Marra.
A series of incidents affecting AMIS have taken place in Darfur over the last month.
Two AMIS personnel were murdered on 5 March 2007 in Graida.
According to the AU Commission, the shooting in the Kurni general area of Jebel Marra clearly targeted an AMIS helicopter carrying Brig.
Rurangwa and his entourage.
"It is worth noting that these attacks have been launched against the backdrop of an increasing spate of harassments, hijackings, threats and blackmail that have been made against the Mission and its top leadership by some of those it is supposed to work with and assist, with the intended objective of discrediting the Mission and, ultimately, the efforts of the African Union in Darfur," said the statement.
Condemning these acts, Konare stressed that they were a clear violation of the different ceasefire agreements that all the parties to the conflict in Darfur had solemnly agreed to respect.
According to the statement, Konare views the increasing hostility against AMIS as a calculated and deliberate attempt not only to frustrate AMIS from performing its duties, but also to derail the ongoing efforts by the AU and the UN to re-energize the peace process in Darfur.
He said it was a misguided and misleading view that there could be a military solution to the complex problem in Darfur.
The AU chief executive has reiterated his appeal to the Sudanese parties to extend full cooperation and support to the efforts of the AU and UN Special Envoys, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Elliason respectively, because they are aimed at broadening the peace process and consolidating the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).
The AU has warned of a possibility for a catastrophic and tragic breakdown of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, if all the stakeholders do not manage the emerging threats in a more robust, comprehensive and cooperative manner.
"If this trend continues, the peacekeeping operation in Darfur will be in serious jeopardy," Konare said, adding that the AU cannot continue to condone the unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression and impunity by the very same people that it continues to make great sacrifices to help.
He demanded a speedy investigation into the recent incidents, with the full cooperation of all the parties involved and emphasized that the culprits must be found and brought to justice under international law.
"The supreme sacrifice that some members of AMIS have paid for peace in Darfur shall never be in vain," Konare assured the people and governments of AU Member States.