In the Darfur region of Sudan, 200 gunmen, riding on horseback and driving 40 SUVs, ambushed United Nations peacekeepers today, killing seven in this conflict-ridden zone.
U.N. peacekeepers have been struggling to restore order in Darfur, where the U.N. estimates 300,000 people have died in five years of fighting.
The Sudanese government grudgingly agreed to allow 26,000 U.N. soldiers into Darfur. However, seven months into the mission, there are only 9,000 troops patrolling an area the size of Texas.
The peacekeepers face obstacles at every turn as they seek to quell the violence and killing that ravages the region.
"Darfur is a forbidding place," said Maj. Chris Brown of the United Nations Mission in Sudan. "Sometimes I say it's the end of the road at the edge of the world."
The Sudanese government, itself, is a major obstacle impeding the success of the mission to end the vicious bloodletting. Rather than permitting U.N. forces to effectively patrol the camps where millions of victims of rape, beatings and other atrocities have taken refuge, the government has limited the troops' access.
Outside a camp near El Fasher, children called out to our ABC News team. However, government officials would not allow the children to speak and would not let our team enter the camp.
In addition to the government's restrictions, air support poses a problem. There are few U.N. helicopters in Darfur, leaving the people without adequate protection.
With the peacekeepers unable to do their jobs, a fresh wave of violence recently forced another 58,000 people to flee their homes, leaving several villages abandoned.
While the United Nations would like to build bases to protect the people, the international organization lacks the right equipment. To date, despite the avowals of determination from the international community to help solve the problem, only Ethiopia has committed helicopters to this mission.
"To try to influence the situation on the ground, you need mobility," Brown said. "Darfur has very limited roads. So, you need helicopters, you need airlift, and that's going to be critical to making that mission a success."
Without mobility, U.N. troops are confined, in terms of their scope and reach. And before additional troops can be brought in for support, supplies and water -- about 15 gallons per soldier per day -- must be secured.
U.N. troops also told us they are outmanned and outgunned. Local forces are armed with AK 47s, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, which local Sudanese officials were hesitant to reveal.
Several U.N. security patrols have been attacked and trucks belonging to the U.N. World Food Program have been hijacked. The result: food handouts have been cut in half.
All of these challenges have caused countries that had promised to commit troops and equipment, to reconsider, such as Sweden and Norway, which withdrew their offers in January.
One of the biggest complaints by many U.N. troops is that the Sudanese government has not allowed them to increase and step up their efforts in Darfur.
"If you have limitations on troops, you can worry about it, you can complain about it, but at the end of the day, you just give it a try and make a difference," Brown said. "So, really, that's the focus of the U.N. forces on the ground right now -- try and make a difference with what we have."
While U.N. troops try to make the best with what they have, the survival of the people of Darfur is at stake.