Saturday, October 01, 2005

Sudan Government Attacks Darfur Civilians, African Union Says

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) --
Sudanese government troops have attacked civilians in the Darfur region with ``overwhelming'' force in apparent coordination with nomadic militia forces known as the Janjaweed, the African Union said today.

About 400 Janjaweed fighters on camels and horseback attacked the Aro Sharow refugee camp in western Darfur, killing 34 people Sept. 28 as government helicopters flew overhead, said Baba Gana Kingibe, the union's special representative to Sudan.

Government forces have ``resorted to the violent, destructive and overwhelming use of force not only against rebel forces, but also on innocent civilian villages and the IDP camps,'' Kingibe told reporters today in Khartoum, Sudan's capital. The African Union, a regional grouping of African countries, has a peacekeeping force of 6,000 troops in Darfur.

The violence may force the United Nations and international aid groups to suspend aid programs in the region, which is the size of France, Jan Egeland, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, said yesterday. Aid agencies are trying to feed 3.5 million people in Darfur. As many as 180,000 people have died and 2 million have fled their homes since a rebellion erupted against the government in Khartoum in 2003.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday said he is ``appalled'' by the attacks which come as government and rebel negotiators are holding a sixth round of talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Kingibe said the violence in Darfur indicates neither side is showing ``good faith.''

The government's deployment of helicopter gunships overhead while the Janjaweed forces were attacking villagers suggests cooperation with the militia, he said.

``This apparent land and air assault gives credence to the repeated claim by the rebel movements of collusion between the GOS forces and the Janjaweed/Arab militia,'' he said.

Last year, the U.S. government accused Sudan's government of carrying out genocide in Darfur.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Karl Maier in Khartoum, Sudan at

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