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Human Rights Group Says Militia Killed More Than 100 in Chad


An international human rights group is saying Sudanese militia killed more than 100 villagers in eastern Chad last month. The monitoring group says the raids happened when Chadian rebels were attacking the capital, N'Djamena.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch says the Janjaweed militia from Sudan shot or hacked the villagers to death with machetes.

Citing eyewitnesses, it says the militia used Chadian recruits to help them in their attacks on Djawara and three adjacent villages near the Sudanese border on April 12 and 13.

This was when Chadian rebels were approaching N'Djamena in an attack that was later repulsed by Chadian President Idriss Deby's armed forces. Human Rights Watch says the raids on the border villages were staged then, because Chadian government troops were diverted by the attack on the capital.

The non-governmental organization says its researchers saw decomposing bodies and mass graves in the villages, and received testimonials from survivors.

Human Rights Watch's Leslie Lefkow tells VOA, militia violence has been a recurring phenomenon in the region.

"Over the last couple of years there has been an increase in attacks by Sudanese Janjaweed militia from Darfur into eastern Chad," Lefkow says. "Many of these attacks were small-scale attacks, largely aimed at cattle-raiding of Chadian villagers and Sudanese refugees."

Chad has repeatedly accused Sudan of backing Chadian rebels opposed to Mr. Deby, a charge the Sudanese government denies.

Lefkow says the attacks are unlikely to stop, unless a strong U.N. peacekeeping force is deployed to Sudan's Darfur region to augment an African Union force there.

"It is absolutely imperative that a much stronger international force goes into Darfur to put a lid on those attacks," Lefkow says. "These militia groups have been given an absolute blank check to carry out any kind of violence against civilians."

The name Janjaweed is commonly given to Arab militias in Sudan's Darfur region, who are believed to be backed by the government.