Published — Monday 24 December 2012
Last update 24 December 2012 2:56 am
KHARTOUM/UNITED NATIONS: Four peacekeepers shot dead by one of their comrades in Sudan's troubled Darfur region were all Ethiopian, a source familiar with the incident told AFP on Saturday.
The shooter, who subsequently killed himself, was also from the East African country, the source said, asking for anonymity.
The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has not released the nationalities of the dead or details of what led to the shooting.
While UNAMID is investigating circumstances surrounding the incident, the source told AFP that the peacekeepers are in a stressful environment, "all the time in a dangerous place and all the time away from families." In October five 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.
Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force, said UNAMID is investigating the shooting.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict since rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government nearly 10 years ago, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. Violence has tapered off, but clashes continue.
UNAMID was established in July 2007 and given a key mandate of protecting civilians in Darfur, but it also contributes to security for those providing humanitarian aid, verifying agreements, political reconciliation efforts and promoting human rights. It currently has about 16,500 troops and military observers and over 5,000 international police.