A police officer with the hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is recovering in hospital after he was pistol-whipped yesterday by unknown gunmen while on a police patrol near a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The police officer is in stable condition in the hospital, UNAMID said in a press statement issued today, adding that it strongly condemned such attacks on its police officers, who do not carry arms while performing their duties.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also deplored the attack, noting that the mission personnel have been deployed "to contribute to peace and stability" in Darfur.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, he called on the Sudanese Government and Darfur's rebel movements to make sure UNAMID can carry out its full mandate.
The mission police team was returning from a routine patrol at the IDP camp at Zamzam, south of the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher, when they were stopped by four armed men yesterday afternoon.
The officers were ordered to leave their vehicles and then robbed of their personal belongings and official identification cards. Two vehicles were hijacked, and Sudanese police have so far only been able to recover one of the vehicles.
It was during the robbery and hijacking that one of the assailants hit one of the police officers in the neck using the back of an AK-47.
The mission said an investigation was under way and stressed that it would continue until the perpetrators are found and brought to justice.
About 1,562 police officers currently serve with UNAMID, which took over operations in the war-wracked region of western Sudan from an AU-only mission at the start of this year. When it reaches full deployment, the hybrid force should have 6,372 police officers.
UNAMID reiterated earlier appeals to contributing countries to send police force members to Darfur as soon as possible to strengthen the capacity of the operation.
The officers are tasked with carrying out daily assignments aimed at providing a safer environment for civilians, especially the most vulnerable groups, such as IDPs and women.
At least 200,000 people have been killed across Darfur since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militiamen in 2003, and almost 2.5 million others have had to flee their homes and live as either IDPs or as refugees in neighbouring Chad.