KHARTOUM – Attackers who killed seven peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region were armed with anti-aircraft guns, the head of the African Union-U.N. mission said Sunday, calling for a review of whether his men have the tools to deal with worsening insecurity.
Saturday’s ambush left seven Tanzanian troops dead and wounded 17 other military and police personnel from the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
“They had RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades). They had AK-47s and they apparently even had anti-aircraft guns,” UNAMID chief Mohamed Ibn Chambas said after inspecting the patrol’s bullet-damaged vehicles — including a marked ambulance.
Chambas spoke after returning from Khor Abeche, where the ill-fated patrol was based north of the South Darfur state capital, Nyala.
It was the worst attack in UNAMID’s five-year history.
“We are all very saddened by it,” Chambas said.
Another marked UNAMID ambulance was shot up earlier this month in an attack that wounded three Nigerian peacekeepers.
Critics have said UNAMID is not aggressive enough in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians.
UNAMID was set up in 2007 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which allows for the use of armed force.
Last month, Chambas said that the mission, “frankly, is not deployed in the posture of a Chapter VII,” as it does not have helicopter gunships or other combat elements.
Neither does it have “a clear mandate to be able to go after the spoilers,” he said at the time.