SUDAN: IDPs report continuing killings by gunmen in Darfur
KHARTOUM, 2 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - At least 16 people have been killed by unidentified gunmen in South Darfur state amidst reports of continuing violence in western Sudan, UN officials told IRIN in the capital, Khartoum.
"A number of IDPs [internally displaced persons] reported that in an attack in Thur, 20 km north of the town of Kas in South Darfur, approximately 16 people were killed on 23 February," Leon Willems, spokesperson for the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), said on Wednesday.
Those killed, Willems added, were apparently attacked while on their way to tend to their land in nearby place called Salakoyo.
"The AU is aware of these reports and investigations are ongoing," Nourreddine Mezni, a spokesperson for the African Union (AU) in Khartoum, told IRIN.
Reports of more armed clashes and other ceasefire violations in Darfur had continued to be received even as the AU was attempting to bring the warring parties back to the negotiation table, the officials said.
During the weekend of 26 and 27 February, a number of incidents were reported, including an attack by tribal militias on a village called Aduana, in South Darfur.
The monitoring team of the AU, which investigated the report, established that two villagers were killed and two others injured. The attackers fled after looting livestock.
In North Darfur, armed clashes were reported between militias and rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) forces on 26 February, in an area located 50 km west of the capital, El Fasher. Unconfirmed reports indicated that the groups attacked two SLM/A soldiers, one of whom was reportedly killed and one injured.
The AU spokesperson said a delegation from the pan-African organisation's mediation team had been in consultation with the Sudanese parties on the best way to resume talks and achieve a political solution to the Darfur conflict.
The delegation, led by Ambassador Sam Ibok, held a series of meetings with government officials in February in Khartoum, followed by similar consultations with leaders of the two main rebel groups in Darfur, the SLM/A and the Justice and Equality Movement.
"The objective of this round of consultations is to find a solution to rapidly resume the Abuja peace talks and to consolidate a durable ceasefire," Mezni said.
At the end of the consultations, a draft framework protocol on the resolution of the Darfur conflict would be prepared in light of the positions expressed by the parties.
On Sunday, the Sudanese ambassador to Ethiopia and representative at the AU, Abu-Zaid Al-Hassan, said his government was committed to maintaining its coordination with relevant parties to make the AU mission in Darfur a success.
The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias, allegedly allied to the government, against rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and up to 1.85 million internally displaced or forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.