UN members visit Darfur as peacekeeper is abducted

EL FASHER, Sudan  — A UN Security Council team visiting Darfur expressed deep concerns Friday over the increase in violence in the western Sudanese region, worries that were underscored by the kidnapping the previous day of a peacekeeper serving with the joint UN-African Union mission in the area.
The UN members are on a fact-finding trip that started in southern Sudan earlier in the week, ahead of a January independence referendum that will determine whether the south will split off from the rest of the country. There are fears the vote could lead to a new outbreak of north-south civil war in Sudan, Africa's largest country.
As the UN delegation arrived in Darfur on Thursday, armed men raided a residence housing three international peacekeepers in downtown El Fasher, the capital of the North Darfur state, according to UNAMID spokesman Chris Cycmanick.
Cycmanick said three gunmen initially grabbed the peacekeepers and made away in a UNAMID car. Two of the abducted managed to escape from the moving vehicle, while the third — a Hungarian civilian — is still missing. It was the first attack on the mission in central El Fasher. Cycmanick said the getaway car was later found abandoned in town.