SA spared in peacekeeper toll

There were no South African police or soldiers harmed in an attack by rebels on African Union peacekeepers in Sudan at the weekend.

There were no South African police or soldiers harmed in an attack by rebels on African Union peacekeepers in Sudan at the weekend.

Defence spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said no South Africans who form part of the AU peacekeepers in the Darfur region were killed or injured.

Police Senior Superintendent Vish Naidoo confirmed that none of the South African policemen also deployed under the AU banner were injured in the attack.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that 10 AU peacekeepers were killed and 40 are missing after their base in Darfur was overrun by gunmen.

"Ten soldiers were killed, eight wounded of whom six have been evacuated to Khartoum and 40 are still missing," AU Mission in Sudan spokesman Noureddine Mezni said on Saturday in Haskanita base in southern Darfur.

The AU on Sunday described a "sustained attack by a large and organised group of heavily armed men" who broke into the camp with 30 vehicles, forcing AU troops to fight "a defensive battle".

The AU declined to speculate on who carried out the attack or elaborate on the nationalities of those killed. The missing included 36 AU soldiers, three military observers and a police officer.

The attack came as Desmond Tutu arrived in Khartoum heading a group of statesmen called The Elders, seeking to help peace efforts in Darfur. The delegation includes Graca Machel, former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and former US president Jimmy Carter.

"The attack shows how desperate the situation is and how big is the need for peace," Tutu said. - Sapa

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