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Two AU Peacekeepers Kidnapped in Darfur
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Two soldiers of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force had been kidnapped in Sudan's restive western region of Darfur, the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) said in a statement on Monday.

The two African soldiers were hijacked along with their AMIS vehicle on Sunday, by unidentified armed men, according to the statement.

It added that the two soldiers and the vehicle had been taken to an unknown location where they were being held despite repeated calls from the AMIS for their release.

"AMIS condemns this hijacking in the strongest terms, and once more calls on the kidnapers to unconditionally release the personnel and the vehicle with immediate effect and without any bodily or physical harm," the statement said.

The 7,800-strong AU peacekeeping force was established in Darfur in 2004 to monitor the implementation of a ceasefire agreement signed between the conflicting parties in the region on April 8 in the same year.

The AU's Peace and Security Council decided in a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria last month to extend the mandate of the African troops serving under the AU in Darfur till June 30, 2007.

The UN Security Council had authorized an international force to replace the AU troops, but the idea was opposed by Khartoum.

(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2006)

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