30 November 2012

Sudan: Rapes, Violence and Looting Reported in Tabet

Tabet — Intensive looting, rapes and violence were reported in Tabet, North Darfur, by several witnesses who spoke with Radio Dabanga on Friday, 30 November.

They said that pro-government militias from Kutum and El-Waha localities are targeting citizens who come from 'all areas of East Jebel Marra' to shop and trade at the weekly Tabet market.

The 'Friday market' is the largest in the region, attracting thousands of citizens from the surrounding areas every week.

'At least seven raped'

Numerous witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the militias 'positioned themselves on all main roads leading to Tabet' on Thursday early morning. They explained that all streets leading to Tabet connect at least 30 villages to the market each.

On Friday, sources continued, the militias began looting all citizens heading to and from Tabet, 'stripping them of all of their possessions'. In addition, at least seven women were raped in front of their families and bystanders, they asserted.

The militias also beat, tortured, insulted, and accused civilians of being Torabora (rebel movements), leaving several injured. Onlookers explained that, at this point, it is difficult to assess the exact number of victims.

According to reports, the first rape took place at Galab Street, located one kilometer from Tabet. In this event, three girls aged between 12 and 13 years old were 'collectively raped by a group of militiamen'.

Witnesses declared the second assault occurred on Karafullah Street, in which four women aged around 18, 19 or 20 years old, were the victims.

Onlookers said that several other women were attacked, but they could not yet assess the exact number of victims.

They explained this is because there are many streets leading to the 'Friday market', with thousands of people passing by, what makes it difficult for them to keep track of the correct amount of casualties.

'3 billion pounds stolen'

Other witnesses informed Radio Dabanga that the militia Janjaweed is responsible for the looting, which they affirmed was backed-up by an Antonov airplane flying over the streets leading to Tabet.

Preliminary estimations point out that the perpetrators stole 3.325 billion Sudanese pounds, sources suggested. However, they continued, this is a 'shy estimation', as large numbers of big and small traders were looted.

Additionally, sources affirmed that at least 222 mobile phones were stolen. The robberies happened on the following roads: Kutu street (47 phones), Karafullah street (41 phones), Hashaba Street (81 phones), Umm Treeter street (25 phones), Galab Street (15 phones), Kadarik Street (eight phones) and Hilat Ahmad Street (5 phones).

Victims told Radio Dabanga that the militias beat and then and stole all of their belongings, including the goods they were going to sell at the market. Afterwards, the perpetrators brought the stolen items to their main base located near Tabet, sources recounted.

Some of the witnesses affirmed these are the same militias who carried out the attacks in Hashaba last September.

'Official instructions to crush East Jebel Marra'

Several sources stressed to Radio Dabanga that while beating them, militiamen were screaming that they are following official instructions to 'clean and crush the whole of East Jebel Marra'.

Besides, the militiamen were instructed to 'clear the roads between El-Fasher and Nyala', according to testimonies.

Witnesses affirmed the instructions came from the Minister of Defense Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein and Sudan's first Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha.

The federal authorities, sources recounted, reportedly ordered the militias to 'clean up the area within three months and report back to them once the job is done'.

In addition, the armed groups brought very sophisticated weapons from Kutum, which were used during the looting 'to make the locals poor' according to their systematic policy, sources said.

'Largest of its kind'

This is reportedly the second large attack carried out by militias at the 'Friday market'; the first occurred earlier this year during the month of Ramadan. Sources reported to Radio Dabanga that during the previous assault militias looted citizens in front of the Sudanese army, which was based in the region by then.

Onlookers stressed that this is the largest incident of its kind at the Tabet market, in which thousands of people were targeted.

Citizens and local residents urgently called on the UN to protect them. They affirmed to have 'lost everything and declared they cannot flee to El-Fasher as the roads leading to it are being guarded by militias'.

The militias, victims completed, are shooting everyone in the area and are claiming their properties belong to them.

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