Two Jordanian peacekeepers from the African Union-UN mission in the Darfur region of western Sudan have gone missing, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in an upsurge of incidents in the region.
UNAMID said only that “two of its peacekeepers have gone missing” since Monday from Kebkabiya town, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) west of the North Darfur state capital El Fasher.
Both UNAMID and the Sudanese government are investigating, it said, without giving the nationality of the personnel who disappeared. But sources in the area told AFP the two peacekeepers were from Jordan.
In Amman, Jordan’s police directorate confirmed that two Jordanians went missing on Monday as they shopped in the Kebkabiya area.
“Two Jordanian officers serving in the UN peacekeeping forces in Darfur have gone missing since 4:00 pm Monday,” it said in a statement.
The pair were among a group of peacekeepers buying supplies in a market but they failed to show up at a pre-arranged meeting point at the end of the trip, the police said.
An initial search for the men proved in vain but operations are still underway. “There are no indications so far that they were abducted or harmed,” said the statement.
UNAMID is the world’s largest peacekeeping operation, with almost 17,000 troops and 5,000 police whose core mandate is to protect civilians in Darfur where rebels drawn from black African tribes rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003.
The conflict has killed at least 300,000 people, according to UN estimates. The government says 10,000 have died.
Clashes between rebels and government troops, kidnappings, banditry and inter-ethnic fighting continue in the region, although Khartoum last year signed a peace deal with rebel splinter factions.
The UN says an estimated 1.7 million people remain in camps for the displaced in Darfur.
Last week, a dispute left six people dead and 12 wounded in Mellit town, north of El Fasher, but security forces managed to avert a tribal conflict, official media reported.
Earlier in August, the UN said 25,000 people were displaced around the town of Kutum, in another part of North Darfur, after unrest that began with the killing of a government official.