May 12, 2009 / 1:44 PM / 10 years ago

Gunmen kill three Sudanese police in Darfur

(Adds detail, background)

KHARTOUM, May 12 (Reuters) - Gunmen riding camels shot dead three Sudanese police officers in Darfur in an attack aimed at stealing their weapons, a senior police source said on Tuesday, the second attack in the same area in under a week.

"An unknown armed group attacked four policemen yesterday ... east of Nyala and killed three of them," the source told Reuters by telephone from Darfur. The fourth officer was wounded in the attack, 35 km (20 miles) from Nyala in south Darfur.

Law and order have collapsed in Darfur, where U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have died and more than 2.7 million have been driven from their homes in almost six years of ethnic and politically driven violence. Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

The attack comes just days after carjackers shot dead an international peacekeeper in Nyala in an attack the United Nations described as a war crime. A Nigerian peacekeeper was killed in the same area in March.

An undermanned joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, UNAMID, has found itself caught in the middle of an increasingly chaotic conflict involving bandits, rival tribes, government militias and rebels.

Analysts say they have feared an escalation of violence in the western region after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president on March 4 on charges of masterminding violence there. (Reporting by Khalid Abdul Aziz; Writing by Alastair Sharp in Cairo; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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