Four UN peacekeepers were killed and seven more wounded when a landmine exploded close to the town of Abyei just days after the new Ethiopian force was deployed to the disputed region in Sudan’s borderlands.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “saddened” by the deaths on Tuesday in Mabok, southeast of Abyei town.
Mabok, like Abyei town and much of the rest of the region that bears the same name, was occupied by Khartoum’s army from late May.
It is unclear what kind of landmine was detonated but Sudan is among the countries that have signed up to the Ottawa Treaty banning the use of anti-personnel mines.
Less than a week ago 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers were deployed at the start of a six-month stint aimed at maintaining an armed buffer between north and south, both of whom claim the region.
The Ethiopians will also hope to rehabilitate the image of UN peacekeepers in Abyei which was dealt a blow as a contingent of mostly Zambian ‘blue helmets’ cowered in their fortified base as Khartoum’s army and its allied militia ransacked the town and chased away the population.