Four international peacekeepers were killed in a road accident in Sudan’s conflict-torn western Darfur region, where tension has been increasing in recent months, said UN officials.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said several blue-helmeted troops of the joint UN-African Union force in Darfur (UNAMID) had died in the accident. A U.N. official said on condition of anonymity that the four that died were peacekeepers from Sierra Leone.
No other details were immediately available, though the officials indicated that the deaths did not appear to be the result of an attack, Reuters reports.
Separately, Nesirky said that Sudanese plans to introduce new travel restrictions on UNAMID’s movements in Darfur would not be in keeping with the “status of forces agreement” that Khartoum signed with the United Nations.
A senior Sudanese information ministry official said UNAMID staff will have their bags searched at the airport and will have to inform the government before moving on roads in Darfur.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon complained in his latest report on Darfur about restrictions Khartoum and rebel groups have been putting on UNAMID, especially limits on the use of helicopters. The UN Security Council on Friday renewed UNAMID’s mandate for another year.
Predominantly non-Arab rebels took up arms in the desert region of western Sudan in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglect.
UN officials say up to 300,000 Darfuris have died. Khartoum puts the death toll at up to 10,000, and about two million people have fled their homes for huge refugee camps.