22 November 2012

Sudan: SAF Denies Links With Hashaba Attacks

Khartoum — Colonel Sawarmi Khaled Saad, spokesman of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) denied having any links with the attacks in Hashaba from last September, Radio Dabanga has learned on Thursday, 22 November.

Instead, the spokesman accused the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) for carrying out the attacks, in which gold seekers were assaulted, villages and markets were burned and at least 100 people were killed, according to a statement.

In his lengthy press release, the colonel attributed the conflicts around Hashaba to tribalism and suggested that the SLM-MM began an 'escalation of tribal dispute operations in Hashaba in the beginning of September', what led to the fueling of the conflict and then to incidents.

Additionally, the spokesman pointed out that UNAMID ignored statements from the Arabs in its investigations, stressing they are key players in the conflict. Saad also asserted that UNAMID's report was based only on statements' from the rebels, what makes it unreliable, as obtaining information from one party only does not express the reality of a situation.

The colonel said that UNAMID accused the Sudanese army of supporting the Arabs in its report, something he called 'completely unacceptable'.

Saad disclosed that some international parties are trying to turn the conflicts in Hashaba into war crimes. Besides, he criticized a statement released by the US consulate in Khartoum claiming that a UNAMID convoy was attacked on its way to Hashaba, where 70 civilians got killed as a result of the SAF backing of aerial bombardments.

'Hasbaha was planned'

For its part, the SLM-MM suggested that Saad's strong denial actually confirms the involvement of Khartoum and its militia in the Hashaba incidents, adding he believes 'the massacre was entirely planned and supervised' by the federal government.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, the movement's military spokesman Adam Saleh, claimed that the 'Hashaba massacre was conducted by forces and militias that were prepared and trained in Kutum'.

Saleh added they were backed up by 'land forces from Khartoum and by five fighting aircrafts', explaining that the clearest evidences Khartoum's involvement in the Hashaba incidents are the remnants of the bombs and the bodies and graves of the 70 victims.

He said that the bodies of 20 women and 11 children can still be found at the scene.

In addition, Saleh ridiculed the army spokesman's accusation of the involvement of the SLM-MM in the Hashaba attacks, describing them as 'naïve, confusing and a useless trick' of the regime and its militia.

The SLM-MM spokesman stated that the government and militias are the ones responsible for 'all massacres in Darfur' and that these incidents constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Lastly, he denied the existence of tribal conflicts in the area.

Victims' accounts

A civilian from Hashaba confirmed to Radio Dabanga that government forces and its militias carried out the attacks in the area. He also denied that what took place there were tribal disputes, noting that aircrafts, camels and horses were used during the assaults.

The victim questioned that if what happened in Hashaba was indeed related to tribal disputes, how could the tribes have acquired airplanes and why gold seekers were attacked and their properties looted.

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