4 February 2013

Sudan: Mali Islamist Fighters Seen in Kutum, North Darfur - Witnesses

Kutum — Various eyewitnesses from Kutum city, North Darfur, are claiming to have seen armed Islamic fighters from Mali that took part in the fighting in their country over the past week wandering around the city.

They told Radio Dabanga on Monday that the gunmen are mostly present in the western part of Kutum and in Adumur, where herders have settled temporary shelters.

Sources said these men look and have a very different skin tone than the usual Arab gunmen they normally see in Kutum and El-Waha towns. In addition, their Arabic accent is unusual.

The "Mali militants" cover their heads like other fighters in Sudan, but the color of their shawl is black instead of green and yellow, onlookers pointed out.

Upon their arrival at the Kutum market, the militants asked bystanders about shops selling mobiles phones and battery chargers, sources said. They were driving Land Cruisers mounted with Dushkas and cannons.

At the same time, several displaced persons living at Kassab said that "masked armed strangers" entered the camp last Wednesday and asked about Damrah (Ternish), a well-known Arab settlement located west of Kassab.

They were driving three vehicles, two of which were mounted with Dushkas and the other with cannons.

Other witnesses also confirmed to Radio Dabanga seeing unknown gunmen driving heavily armed vehicles over the past few days. They were "roaming the villages and valleys" around Kutum, especially the northern and western areas.

International news sources have mentioned in the past that about 150 Sudanese nationals had gone to Mali to fight against French troops.

The government of Sudan, on its turn, admitted that some "jihadists" went to Mali to fight against the "nonbelievers".

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