News and Information
Hundred killed in Darfur air raid
|January 27, 2005
The AU is trying to get both sides to respect the ceasefire
Some 100 people have been killed in an air raid on a village in Sudan's Darfur region, say military observers, who fear a major upsurge in violence.
"It is a major ceasefire violation," said Jean Baptiste Natama, a senior African Union official in Sudan.
AU monitors are also investigating reports that 100 more people were killed in a militia raid last week.
Some 70,000 people have died and more than 2m fled their homes in the two-year conflict.
African Union spokesman Adam Thiam said that according to monitors on the ground, an attack did take place on Wednesday night, hinting strongly that the bombing was carried out by government planes.
The rebels do not have an air force.
The bombing was on the border between North and South Darfur, where the government has accused rebels of mounting recent attacks and is believed to have been around the village of Shangil Tobaya, 65km south of El-Fasher.
'Women and children'
The US and human rights groups accuse the Sudan government of backing Arab militias who have committed atrocities such as systematic killing and mass rape against Darfur's black African groups.
What is genocide?
The Sudanese government denies backing the Janjaweed militias, and blames rebels for starting the conflict.
"The planes were flying very low just south of El-Fasher and then the explosions were heard from that direction," one aid worker told Reuters news agency.
"The majority of the victims were women and children. We are extremely concerned," a spokeswoman for the UN envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, told the BBC.
The AU has some 1,400 troops and military observers in Darfur, trying to get both sides to respect a ceasefire signed last April.
A UN official has said some 9,000 people had fled their homes after the nearby village of Hamada was destroyed last week.
UN spokesman George Somerwill said up to 105 civilans were feared dead, but did not say whether the village was attacked by rebels, government forces or the pro-government Arab militias.
AU official Justin Thundu said military observers were investigating reports that pro-government Janjaweed militias were responsible for the attack.
A UN investigation on whether genocide has been committed in Darfur has been completed and is expected to be made public next week.
The latest fighting has produced more refugees, the UN says
This may include a sealed list of those accused of war crimes.
The US has said that genocide is being committed and has again started to lobby for a UN resolution threatening sanctions against Sudan.
Previous attempts to threaten sanctions have been blocked by China, which has oil interests in Sudan, and Russia, which has sold arms to the government, according to lobby group Human Rights Watch.
Two rebels group took up arms in 2003, accusing the Arab government of neglecting Darfur.
The rebels have since split into four factions and peace talks with the government have made little progress.
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