( RIA Novosti ) - The African Union (AU) has requested the African peacekeeping contingent, based in the conflict zone in Darfur, be strengthened following attacks by rebels, Arab media said Wednesday.
Last Saturday Darfur rebels attacked a camp of African peacekeepers killing 10 and wounding nine, while three are reported as missing. It was the largest attack on the peacekeeping contingent since 2004.
The head of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union said the peacekeepers must be provided with material and technical back up so that the troops are capable of repelling attacks and eliminating militants.
In June, Khartoum agreed, after almost a year of rejection, to a peacekeeping operation in Darfur, to be run jointly by the UN and the African Union, which will provide a total of 23,000 troops. The 53-member AU currently has a 7,000-strong force in the region, but has so far been unable to stop the fighting.
In mid-September Vitaly Churkin, Russia's envoy to the UN, said that Russia is planning to send a group of military experts to Darfur to join the largest UN peacekeeping operation to date.
The UN estimates violence and disease have killed at least 200,000 and forced 2 million from their homes in Arab-dominated Darfur since 2003, when rebel groups, mainly made up of black African farmers, began fighting with the pro-government Jangaweed militia, mostly Arab herders, over land, accusing the government of discrimination towards the mainly black population.