Three AMIS peacekeepers and two contractors affiliated with that mission have been killed, and a number of others held captive. “What happened with the African Union soldiers is completely unacceptable,” Mr. Annan told a press briefing in Geneva. Responding to questions, he warned that “if the situation in Darfur persists, it may have a negative impact on the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement which is now moving forward between the north and south.” In New York, a spokesman for Mr. Annan released a statement calling the targeting of the AU Mission “completely unacceptable.” Pointing out that AMIS is an impartial force deployed to assist the parties to the conflict, spokesman Stephane Dujarric called all parties involved in the peace talks to help in bringing those responsible to account without delay. “The Secretary-General reminds the Government that it has the ultimate responsibility for the protection of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers,” he said. “The Secretary-General calls on the Government and the rebel movements to take immediate steps to stabilize the situation in Darfur, and at the same time engage seriously in the talks in Abuja with a view to reaching an early political settlement,” he added. Meanwhile in Sudan, the senior UN envoy, Jan Pronk, echoed the Secretary-General’s condemnation.“This targeting of African Union personnel contravenes the status of the African mission as an independent third-party, strongly supported by the UN Security Council,” he said. “The perpetrators of these attacks against the African Union, as well as those responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Darfur, will be held to account,” he added, pledging to forward information on the matter to the Security Council committee monitoring Sudan. Mr. Pronk voiced satisfaction that most of the hostages had been freed but called for the release of those who remain captive. He also reminded all countries that the Security Council has urged them repeatedly to support the AU in its efforts, including by providing all equipment and resources necessary. Mr. Pronk decried the fact that this support had been late and inadequate, citing in particular the delay in making armoured personnel carriers (APCs) available to the AU mission.

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