Arusha - Tanzania's president on Monday called for the
beefing up of the protection capacity of peacekeepers in the hybrid UN/African
Union force in Sudan's Darfur region, after seven peacekeepers were killed
there in an ambush.
"The time has come to take a fresh look at the way we
keep peace in Darfur and at the way peacekeeping forces protect
themselves," Jakaya Kikwete said in a speech in Dar es Salaam.
Kikwete was paying homage to the Tanzanian soldiers killed
by unidentified gunmen on 13 July in the troubled western Sudanese region and
whose bodies were repatriated Saturday.
The peacekeepers' "capacity to protect themselves needs
to be reinforced to reduce the number of dead and wounded", Kikwete said.
"We are going to express our concerns to the competent
authorities at the UN and the African Union," he went on, calling the
seven victims "heroes". The seven were part of a patrol that was
ambushed in the worst attack in the five-year history of the African
Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid).
The attack, in which a further 17 peacekeepers were also
wounded, brings to around 50 the total number of men with Unamid killed since
the force's deployment in 2008.
Rebels have been fighting the government for a decade in
Darfur, but Unamid says clashes between rival tribal and ethnic groups have
been responsible for most of the worsening unrest there this year.
The UN experts, human rights activists and tribal leaders
have accused government security forces of involvement in this year's tribal
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed outrage at
what he called a "heinous attack" and called on Khartoum to take
swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The UN has repeatedly made similar calls after previous
attacks on its peacekeepers in Sudan, but UN sources say they are unaware of
anyone having been held accountable.
Unamid, with about 20 000 military and police peacekeepers,
is one of the largest such missions in the world, and has a mandate to protect