The African Union (AU) on Tuesday called for an immediate release of two African peacekeepers who had been kidnapped in al-Fashir, the biggest city in Sudan's restive western region of Darfur.
"We came here for helping the Sudanese people and we do not want the kidnapping incident to be a negative message for us," Noureddin Mazeni, the spokesman of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), told Xinhua.
Two AMIS soldiers were kidnapped in al-Fashir on Sunday by unidentified armed men and had been moved to an unknown location, said Mazeni, adding that efforts have been exerting on high levels to free them.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the AMIS strongly condemned the kidnapping, urging the Sudanese authorities "to step up their efforts to apprehend criminal elements and bring them speedily to justice."
It also noted that the security situation in Darfur was still volatile and constituted a source for worry in the light of the numbers of civilians assaulted and killed as well as the attacks that had been perpetrated against the AMIS.
On Saturday, unidentified armed men attacked a commercial vehicle near Sirba, West Darfur, killing 22 people and injuring 10others, according to the statement.
The AMIS was established in late 2004 to monitor the implementation of a ceasefire accord signed between the conflicting parties in Darfur in the same year.
(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2006)