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Darfur: 7 UN peacekeepers killed in Sudan in worst-ever loss for force

Attacks, including against peacekeepers, continue in restive Darfur region of Sudan.

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Children walk past a United Nations peacekeeper in the North Darfur state capital of El-Fasher, Sudan, on June 17, 2013. (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

Seven United Nations peacekeepers died, and 17 more were injured, during an ambush in Sudan on Saturday.

The ambush happened in Darfur, and is the worst loss of life for the African Union-UN Mission (UNAMID) in its five years of operating there, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The UNAMID team came under heavy fire from a large unidentified group. Following an extended firefight, the patrol was extracted by UNAMID reinforcements,” UNAMID said in a news release.

The attackers used automatic weapons, and possibly rocket-propelled grenades, the Associated Press reported.

There is no word on who is responsible, or those who were killed. However, AFP said Tanzanian troops patrol that region of Darfur.

In all, UNAMID has 16,500 troops and 5,000 police officers trying to keep the peace in Darfur, where 300,000 have died since rebels started fighting against a government they accuse of discrimination.

Fighting started in full force 10 years ago, Reuters said, between African tribes and the Arab government. Now, the tribes, government and rebels squabble over land and the resources on it.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a UNAMID representative, called it a “heinous attack.”

“The perpetrators should be on notice that they will be pursued for this crime and gross violation of international humanitarian law,” he said.

According to AFP, violence in Sudan’s far-west region continues to escalate. Today’s attack happened near the UN base at Manawashi, north of the South Darfur state capital Nyala.

More than 40 UNAMID members have died in hostile action since the mission’s establishment in 2007.

Prior to Saturday, six other peacekeepers had been killed in attacks in Darfur since October, AFP reported.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

More from GlobalPost: Tribal fighting leaves 130 dead in Darfur 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/130713/darfur-7-un-peacekeepers-killed-sudan-worst-ever-loss-force