Three Rwandan peacekeepers from the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were killed and others wounded today in an attack by unidentified gunmen while collecting water in the north of the strife-torn Sudanese region.The attack, which occurred in Saraf Umra in North Darfur state, took place about 4:15 p.m. local time, according to a statement issued by a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Two peacekeepers were killed at the scene and a third died later from his wounds.“The Secretary-General deplores this attack on AU-UN peacekeepers in Darfur and calls on the Government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice,” the statement said.Mr. Ban offered his condolences to the families of the fallen peacekeepers and voiced his appreciation for their commitment to the search for peace in Darfur.Today’s attack brought to 17 the number of UNAMID armed personnel killed in a hostile confrontation since the mission deployed at the start of 2008. In July 2007 a joint police and military patrol from the preceding AU mission was ambushed by at least 200 attackers, leaving seven peacekeepers dead and 22 wounded.Today’s attack follows the shooting and wounding of three other peacekeepers, also by unidentified gunmen, in West Darfur in October, and the killing of another in South Darfur in May, as well as the kidnapping of two UNAMID civilian staff members in August in West Darfur. They are still being held. The dead and wounded were evacuated to El Fasher, the North Darfur capital, the mission reported, noting that information was still preliminary. In his latest report on UNAMID last month, Mr. Ban said increased threats to international staff, including “extremely alarming” kidnappings, military action by Chad, Sudan and rebels, and Government limits on peacekeepers’ movements continued to hamper efforts to stabilize the Sudanese area torn apart by nearly seven years of war.At least 300,000 people are estimated to have died and 2.7 million more have been driven from their homes in the fighting between the Government, its militia allies and various armed groups.Almost two years after being set up, UNAMID has still only reached 69 per cent of its authorized troop strength – 14,638 military personnel out of the total 19,555, and 4,449 police – and still lacks key military elements, including two medium transport units, a level II hospital, an aerial reconnaissance unit, and 18 medium utility helicopters. 4 December 2009Three Rwandan peacekeepers from the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were killed and others wounded today in an attack by unidentified gunmen while collecting water in the north of the strife-torn Sudanese region.