Khartoum: A Rwandan peacekeeper was killed and three others were wounded in a gunbattle Saturday after trying to mediate a tribal dispute in Sudan`s Darfur region, an African Union-UN mission said.
"As a result of the ensuing fighting, four Rwandan peacekeepers were injured and, unfortunately, one of them died from his wounds," UNAMID said in a statement.
One of the wounded peacekeepers is in a critical condition, it said.
The incident occurred in Kebkabiya, about 140 kilometres west of El Fasher, the North Darfur state capital.
After altercations between non-Arab Fur people from one village and an Arab militia from another community, a UNAMID team attended a mediation session in an effort to ease tensions.
"The Arab militia elements, nevertheless, became hostile towards UNAMID peacekeepers and started shooting at them, at which point the peacekeepers returned fire," the mission said.
"The fighting left an unconfirmed number of casualties among the assailants."
UNAMID chief Mohamed Ibn Chambas condemned the "heinous criminal act in the strongest possible terms."
The peacekeepers "were trying to mediate the dispute in good faith and regrettably their efforts went unappreciated", he said.
UNAMID members have increasingly become a target of violence which has worsened in Darfur over the past 18 months.
There were 16 fatal attacks against the peacekeepers last year, resulting in "significant loss of vehicles, weapons and ammunition," a February report by UN chief Ban Ki-moon said.
A separate UN panel of experts said "Janjaweed groups," or ethnic Arab militias, almost certainly played a leading role in two of the major fatal attacks, with robbery the likely motive.
But Sudan`s government has said it was impossible that militia close to the regime had attacked peacekeepers.
Since the start of the UNAMID mission more than six years ago, 58 peacekeepers have now died in hostile action.