AU officer hijacked, killed in Darfur

Unidentified Darfur gunmen killed an African Union officer from Ghana and hijacked his car within metres of the peacekeeping mission's headquarters, the AU said yesterday.

Unidentified Darfur gunmen killed an African Union officer from Ghana and hijacked his car within metres of the peacekeeping mission's headquarters, the AU said yesterday.

The officer was travelling alone in his vehicle when he was ambushed late on Saturday.

The ambush took place hours after US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visited the AU headquarters in El Fasher as part of a trip to Sudan to push the government to allow UN troops in Darfur to reinforce the overwhelmed AU mission.

It was the third slaying of AU peacekeepers this month.

AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni said: "If this growing hostility continues, truly the [AU] mission will be compromised and we will have to take the necessary measures."

Mezni and other AU officials said they would investigate the killing, which took place on the outskirts of the government-controlled town in North Darfur, where the 7000-strong AU mission has its headquarters since deploying to Darfur in 2004.

He accused certain Darfur fighting factions of trying to "drag the AU into the conflict".

"This cannot happen," he said. - Sapa-AP

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