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Peacekeeping funds destined for Darfur stolen in armed robbery: sources

UNAMID peacekeepers from Ethiopia prepare to go on a night patrol on a pick-up vehicle, in Gereida (South Darfur), July 25, 2012.

Albert Gonzalez/REUTERS

Armed robbers on Sunday stole more than $300,000 (U.S.) destined for the African Union-UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, sources familiar with the crime said.

It is the latest incident in a recent upsurge of violence in Sudan's vast western region, where black African rebels first rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime in 2003.

UNAMID received reports that a bank vehicle had been robbed by armed men in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, said Christopher Cycmanick, a spokesman for the mission.

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There were no injuries but the robbers obtained "an undisclosed amount of cash," he said.

Sources with knowledge of the crime said the robbers made off with more than $300,000, which was destined for UNAMID.

The bank involved, Bank of Khartoum, declined to comment and there was no indication of who might have been responsible.

Banditry, inter-ethnic fighting and clashes between rebel groups and government forces continue in Darfur although violence is much lower than at its peak in 2003 and 2004 when the rebellion began.

Last Tuesday in Nyala at least 10 people, many of them high school students, were killed when security forces opened fire during a demonstration against high prices, Amnesty International said.

And on Wednesday a district chief died from gunshot wounds when his car was ambushed in Kutum, North Darfur.

The next day, armed men began a looting spree that lasted about 12 hours at the offices of the World Food Programme in Kutum, the UN agency said.

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The UNAMID mission has thousands of troops and police, with a budget of about $1.4 billion for 2012-13.

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