UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SUDAN: Darfur villages reportedly burnt in fresh violence
NAIROBI, 24 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Eight villages in the western Sudanese region of Darfur were reportedly burned to the ground on Friday in a fresh outbreak of violence, sources said. An unspecified number of people were killed, the sources added.
"The police have reported the attacks and the African Union monitoring team is investigating what exactly happened," a humanitarian worker in the region, told IRIN on Monday.
Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan said the incident had not yet been formally reported to the mission. "We have heard about the attacks, but are trying to get confirmation," she said.
The official Sudan News Agency reported that the attacks were carried out by Darfur rebels and took place near Malam, about 100 km north of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State.
"The rebels have carried out a heinous attack on the areas of Malam, burning down eight villages and killing and injuring a number of civilians and looting properties," the agency quoted a government statement as saying.
Other international media reported that the two main rebel groups, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), had denied any involvement in the incidents.
The violence came a day after the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, said fighting between government troops and rebels in Darfur had decreased over the past month, but that Arab militias were still attacking villagers.
"The violence is still perpetrated by pro-government militias and other armed groups that are very difficult to control; they attack villages, abduct people and increasingly use rape as a tool of war," Pronk told reporters.
"But between the government and the rebel movements, there is more adherence to the ceasefire than a month ago - and that is a step forward," he added.
The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias, allegedly allied to the government, against the JEM and SLW/A, which are fighting to end what they call the marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for international prosecutions to deter continuing violence in Darfur.
In a report documenting crimes in the region, HRW accused the Sudanese government and its allied militias of committing atrocities.
"Regardless of whether there has been genocide, the scale and severity of the ongoing atrocities in Darfur demand an urgent international response," Peter Takirambudde, HRW's Africa Director, said.
"Given Sudan's continuing failure to prosecute the perpetrators, the [UN] Security Council needs to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court," he added.
The conflict has displaced more than 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad since it began in 2003. The UN has described the Darfur problem as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
The HRW report titled: "Targeting the Fur: Mass Killings in Darfur", is available at: http://embargo.hrw.org/
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