The United Nations human rights office has accused Sudanese security forces of indiscriminately killing more than 100 civilians in South Darfur over the first three months of this year. The charges appear in a U.N. report released Friday that covers the human rights situation in Darfur between January and March. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
The report expresses shock at what it calls the intensity of the fighting and the large number of casualties. It says Sudanese security forces attacked civilian populations in villages near Nyala, in southern Darfur. It says the attacks left over 100 people dead and displaced thousands.
The report says the latest violence stems from a land dispute between two ethnic Arab groups in the Bulbul area of southern Darfur. It says Sudanese security forces sided with one group against the other.
U.N. human rights spokesman Yvon Edoumou says testimony from eyewitnesses in the area shows a consistent pattern in the violence. He says the witnesses described hundreds of heavily armed attackers, many identified as border intelligence personnel, shooting indiscriminately at people.
"Most of the attackers are dressed in green or beige khaki uniforms and accompanied by (and had) machine guns. And, during the incidents, attackers would fire from the outskirts of the settlements with the heavy machine guns and RPGs, the Rocket Propelled Grenade, before entering the settlements and actually shooting at civilians," said Edoumou. "They then systematically looted any sort of items of value, such as livestock, houses, anything they could find."
Edoumou says, in most cases, the attackers burned down the settlement they had just looted.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, is calling for an immediate and independent investigation into the involvement of Sudanese security forces in the attacks near Nyala.
She says Sudan's government has not fulfilled its obligations under international human rights law. She says it has failed to prevent the attacks and protect civilians despite clear evidence that members of its security forces were involved.
Edoumou says Sudanese authorities have received the report and are fully aware of its contents and recommendations.