8 November 2012

Sudan: Peacekeepers Find North Darfur Village Deserted After Recent Attack

Khartoum — A verification team reported that a North Darfur village was totally abandoned by its inhabitants following a recent attack carried by a pro-government militia.

Properties left behind by the population of Sigili, North Darfur, who abandoned the village due to the attack by an armed force last Friday, 2 November. (UNAMID)

On 2 November militiamen attacked Sigili, a village inhabited by Zaghawa ethnic group located at 40 kilometres southeast of Al Fasher, North Darfur. According to the African Union, United Nations mission, UNAMID, 10 people were killed. But HRW said the death toll reached 13 people.

A UNAMID team reached the village on 6 November to verify reports about this attack. Previously on 3 November, Sudanese police prevented a UNAMID team from attaining Sigili.

"The team found Sigili village completely deserted, with apparent signs of an abrupt departure," UNAMID said in a statement released on Thursday.

"It also noticed several signs of destruction of housing and property, killed animals, and burnt houses," the release added, stressing the ammunitions was founded in different parts of the village to indicate the extent of the attack.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the assailants who are members of the Popular Defence Forces, belong to the Berti tribe, another African ethnic group in the region but are at enmity with the Zaghawa.

The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement of Minnin Minnawi said the attackers aimed to dislodge the villagers from the land where they are settled.

Sudanese army broke its old alliance with Darfur Arab groups who participated in the counter-insurgency attacks of 2003-2005 where militias committed atrocities and war crimes against Darfur civilians.

UNAMID said another verification team sent to Abu Delek village, at 60 kilometres southeast of Al Fasher - to verify a similar attack - was stopped by members of the Popular Defence Forces.

The militiamen, according to the UNAMID stopped the convoy and insisted on searching its 9 vehicles, before the team decide to return to Al-Fasher.

This was the second time that the peacekeepers decide to cancel their visit to Abu Delek. On 25 October a UNAMID convoy heading to the area came under heavy gunfire from a group of unknown gunmen.

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