Gunmen kill Darfur aid worker

Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:28am EDT
 
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By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Armed men have shot dead a Sudanese worker for a Canadian aid group in Darfur in the latest of a string of attacks on international organizations in Sudan's violent west, his employer said on Tuesday.

The country director of Fellowship for African Relief said it appeared the attackers were trying to steal a satellite phone when the Sudanese site manager was killed at his house in the remote village of Kongo Haraza late on Monday night.

But there have also been fears that international aid workers and peacekeepers could be targeted in Darfur after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's president earlier this month.

FAR country director Mark Simmons told Reuters that Adam Khatir, 39, had first been ambushed on Saturday.

The men demanded a satellite phone and beat Khatir when he could not provide one, said Simmons. "They came to his house at 9 p.m. on Monday and when they didn't find a phone there they shot him...He was shot dead" he added.

Khatir had been working in his home village for the last five years, building up local agriculture through seed donations and training, said Simmons.

Aid groups have been under increased pressure in Darfur since the International Criminal Court issued its arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is accused of orchestrating war crimes in Darfur.

He responded to the warrant by expelling 13 foreign aid groups, accusing them of spying for the global court.

Since then, five workers for the Belgian arm of Medecins Sans Frontieres were kidnapped and held for three days by a group that, government officials said, was protesting against the warrant.

There has also been a surge in car-jackings and ambushes targeting the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force since the ICC arrest warrant.