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Militia Attacks Continue in Darfur

  • Noel King

Fierce attacks on civilians are continuing in Sudan's embattled Darfur region. The United Nations says dozens of civilians have been killed this week in a camp for displaced Darfuris.

In a report released Friday, the United Nations said at least 50 civilians, including 27 children, were killed in the latest round of attacks by militias known as janjaweed.

The U.N. condemned the attacks on the camp, which is in the Jebel Moon region in Western Darfur.

Fighting has displaced thousands of civilians in recent months, as the Sudanese army continues an offensive against rebels in the region.

Adam Suleiman, a commander with the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, based near Jebel Moon, spoke to VOA by phone from Darfur.

"It happened in Jebel Moon before three days," he said. "Government and janjaweed attacked Jebel Moon area and killed 52 civilians, most of them children, old women, old men."

Civilians have often borne the brunt of attacks by janjaweed militias who continue to terrorize the region, raping, looting and burning villages.

Sudan is charged with arming nomadic Arab tribes to crush a rebellion that began in 2003.

The Sudanese government has denied that it armed the janjaweed and insists that it is attempting to disarm the militias.

But international ire is growing as Sudan refuses to allow a United Nations peacekeeping force to replace the African Union mission currently on the ground.

The AU mission is struggling with funding problems and a weak mandate that critics say prevents the force from protecting civilians.

The tide of violence has risen since late August when the Sudanese government launched an offensive against rebels that have refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Only one faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army agreed to the deal.

Others complained that the agreement did not meet their demands of power-sharing and compensation for some three million victims of the prolonged conflict.

In recent weeks the fighting has spread to neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic, raising fears that the Darfur conflict could destabilize the already volatile region.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres warned Friday that "humanitarian agencies are already struggling to cope with the enormous needs of some two million internally displaced people inside Darfur, plus more than 200,000 refugees in 12 UNHCR-run camps across the border in Chad." An already bad situation, he said, "is worsening by the day."

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