Khartoum — A heavily-armed militia group linked to the Sudanese government has attacked and killed 87 people, including children and women, over the last three days in North Darfur State, eye-witnesses said.
According to the witnesses, government-backed militias groups riding on four-wheel-drive vehicles and with an unusual amount of heavy arms wreaked havoc between Tuesday, 25 September, and Thursday, 27 September, in Hashaba area of Kutum locality in North Darfur State.
The witnesses said that the assailing groups destroyed properties, blocked main roads and killed 87 people including women and children. More than 60 people were also injured in the attack and are being treated in the hospital of Al-Fashir, the state capital, the witnesses added.
A local official in Hashaba, Abdella Rifa, said the militias burned and depopulated three villages in the suburbs of Hashaba, including Khashim Al-Wadi village, Um La'ota village and Tabaldia village. He added that the militias also looted and burned three marketplaces for gold.
The official painted a grim picture of the situation on the ground as he appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance, saying that the displaced population is living under dire humanitarian conditions and there are no available paramedics to treat the wounded.
Rifa blamed the Jangaweed militias for carrying out the "barbaric attack" and held the government responsible for the incidents.
The official also urged the international community to intervene and stop what he termed as the systematic targeting of their population in order to displace them from the area.
Rifa said that the leader of the "Jangaweed" militia that carried out the attack is called Al-Nur. He also said that the group moved to attack from their base in Damrat Al-Quba.
According to Rifa, they knew beforehand that the militia was going to attack and they informed the authorities including the governor of the state, Mohammed Osman Kibir, "but they did nothing"
Kutum locality has been the scene of increased violence and revenge attacks targeting certain ethnic groups since the assassination on 1 August of a district commissioner affiliated to Arab ethnic groups. In early August, militia groups attacked a local IDP camp in the area, killing 21 people and displacing more than 30,000 people, according to local NGOs.
Violence in Darfur has generally surged in recent months following a recession in fighting between the government and the rebel groups who took up arms in 2003 accusing it of marginalizing the region.
During the pinnacle of Darfur conflict in 2003-2004, the government mobilized and armed the Janjaweed militias as part of a counterinsurgency campaign that led to the death of 300,000 people and displacement of more than 2.7 million at the time, according to UN figures.