A rebel group based in the Darfur region of Sudan claims it has captured around 50 United Nations and African Union UNAMID peacekeepers, according to media reports.
A spokesperson with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Gibreel Adam Bilal, told Reuters the peacekeeping force is being held “because they entered our territory without permission and because they were accompanied by three Sudanese we suspect work for the security services.”
Bilal did not specify exactly where the peacekeeping soldiers, who are mainly from Senegal, were captured in Darfur. He told AFP that they were safe.
A UNAMID spokesperson told the BBC there are currently “ongoing negotiations” to resolve the incident, but did not confirm that peacekeepers were captured.
The UNAMID-U.N. peacekeeping force has been targeted in the past by government troops and rebels operating in remote regions in Darfur.
The U.N. has estimated that more than 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Darfur and another 2 million have been displaced as well.
The JEM is one of the most prominent rebel groups operating in the region and took up arms against the Sudanese government headed by longtime President Omar al-Bashir. Like other rebel groups in the area, JEM has said that the government has neglected the region.