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45 soldiers die in Nigerian road accident

world Updated: May 22, 2008 15:45 IST

AFP
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Forty-five Nigerian soldiers who just returned from a peacekeeping mission in Darfur have been killed in a road accident in the north of Nigeria, the army's chief of staff said on Thursday.

The soldiers "were returning to their unit in Monguno (Borno State) from Abuja (federal capital) where they arrived on Tuesday after serving six months with the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan," said Lieutenant General Luka Yussuf.

Yussuf left Abuja on Thursday morning to visit the scene.

The soldiers, including an army captain, were in a convoy of seven vehicles in northeastern Yobe state on Wednesday when one of them collided with an oncoming petrol tanker near the city of Potiskum, said army spokesman Brigadier-general Emeka Onwuamaegbu.

Several soldiers were also injured, he said, adding that the dead soldiers would be given a state burial.

"The military authorities regret this unfortunate incident. The fallen soldiers will be buried with full national honours since they died in the service of their fatherland," he added.

A joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission has been deployed in western Sudan's Darfur region, where the death toll from five years of civil war, famine and disease may be up to 300,000, according to UN estimates.

More than two million people have also been displaced by the conflict which broke out in February 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime and state-backed Arab militias.

Last September, seven Nigerian soldiers were among 10 AU soldiers killed by rebel forces in the troubled region.

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