Khartoum — Three Senegalese peacekeepers were killed and one injured after being ambushed by members of an unidentified armed group in West Darfur on Sunday.
According to the joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the police unit detail came under attack while escorting a water convoy from El Geneina town to the UNAMID regional headquarters in West Darfur.
The assailants hijacked one vehicle, which was later recovered 7kms from the scene.
Members of the Sudanese uniformed services were reportedly caught up in a fire-fight after pursuing the assailants, resulting in casualties on both sides.
The incident occurred on the same road where a UNAMID patrol was ambushed in October last year.
In a statement issued on Sunday, UNAMID joint special representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas said he was deeply saddened by the death of the peacekeepers, describing the attack as a grave criminal act.
"Such incidents are a reminder to all of us of the great price everyone pays in the absence of peace. Our peacekeepers have made the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to bring peace to Darfur," he said
The incident is the second such attack on UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur in recent days.
On Saturday, a UNAMID military observer from Zambia died on 11 October in North Darfur capital El Fasher, following an attack by armed men who stabbed him and hijacked his vehicle.
UNAMID said the incident occurred while the officer was parking a mission vehicle inside his private accommodation.
The victim was immediately transferred to a UNAMID medical facility where he later passed away on the same day.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon has expressed his deepest sympathies to the family of the fallen peacekeeper, saying he expects the Sudanese government to take "swift action" to bring the perpetrators to justice.
In an earlier statement, Chambas condemned the attack on the Zambian peacekeeper as a "criminal and ruthless act".
"An attack on a peacekeeper is a war crime. UNAMID personnel are here in the service of peace and to protect the people of Darfur", he said.
The latest incidents comes barely four months after seven Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed and 17 injured in what was described as the worst-ever single attack in the troubled region since 2007.
UNAMID deployed to Sudan's western Darfur region in 2008 as the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in the world, employing more than 25,000 military, police and civilian staff.
The agency's core mandate is to provide protection to Darfuri civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Over 16,000 UNAMID peacekeepers are currently based in Darfur, where conflict broke in 2003 after mostly non-Arab fighters took up arms against the Sudanese government.