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UN rights unit calls Darfur bombardments 'indiscriminate and inappropriate'

11 May 2007 The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today described as “indiscriminate” a series of deadly aerial bombardments across the North Darfur region of Sudan and said there were many civilian casualties.

OHCHR said it has learned that the attacks – over which United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern on Wednesday – were carried out near El Fasher, North Darfur with helicopter gunships and Antonov aircraft between 19 and 29 April, killing and wounding civilians and destroying property, school buildings and livestock.

“The bombardments appeared to have been indiscriminate and disproportionate, failing to distinguish between military and civilian targets,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas said. “The disproportionate use of force constitutes violations of international humanitarian and human rights law,” she added.

In one incident that was cited by the Secretary-General in his statement, the school in the village of Um Rai was struck by rockets fired from a Government helicopter. Some of the 170 pupils in the school were injured in that attack, with two civilians killed in the attack on the village.

The OHCHR spokesman identified four other villages attacked during the period and said more information was being gathered on their consequences.

What we do know, he said, is that the attacks have contributed to an already critical humanitarian situation, causing renewed displacement and spreading terror among the civilian population.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes in Darfur since 2003 because of fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups since 2003.

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