Four UN-African Union peacekeepers are missing in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, the joint mission, UNAMID, says.
“Four peacekeepers left their base in Nyala (South Darfur) and were going back to their accommodation yesterday,” UNAMID spokesperson Kemal Saiki said. “They have not been heard from or seen since then.”
Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings of expatriates, including UNAMID soldiers, in the past year, mostly by armed young men demanding ransom.
Saiki said he had no idea what had happened to the four peacekeepers, who had begun the 7 km drive from the base to their accommodation at 4 pm (1300 GMT).
“We have immediately informed the Sudanese authorities and we are expending all our resources in the region to get information on their whereabouts,” he added.
The last foreign hostage in Darfur, Red Cross worker Gauthier Lefevre, was released last month after 147 days in captivity.
Aid workers in western Sudan had hoped his release would mark an end to the kidnappings, which had limited their ability to help the more than 2 million Darfuris who have fled fighting and sought shelter and food in miserable camps.
The abductions began after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last year, accusing him of war crimes in Darfur. He denies the charges.
Bashir hopes to be elected president in the first open polls in Sudan in 24 years which began on Sunday in defiance of the ICC warrant.
Since a revolt by mostly non-Arab rebels seven years ago, carjackings and banditry have been rife in the remote region bordering Chad.
Pic: UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur