Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

11 February 2013

Sudan: Mali Militants On 200 Vehicles Arrive in Kutum, North Darfur - Sources

Photo: HCR/Y.Djigo
Displaced by fighting.

Kutum — Multiple sources assert that 200 Land Cruisers with Islamist militants from Mali fleeing the hostilities in their country have arrived in Kutum, North Darfur, in the past 10 days.

They told Radio Dabanga on Monday the groups are stationed in three different areas around Kutum, adding they are "inciting a state of fear and terror" among citizens.

The first group can be found just one kilometer north of camp Kassab for displaced, the second in Jebel Mari, seven or eight kilometers northeast of Kutum, and the third in Sijana, about 10 kilometers north of Kutum, sources affirm.

Upon arriving in Kutum, the militants' vehicles were covered with thick green tarps and they were carrying heavy artillery, eyewitnesses pointed out.

Some of the alleged Malian militants have "long beards, wear outfits resembling those found in Western Sahara and black shawls". Witnesses added a number of them speak French and most do not speak Arabic.

These groups go shopping at the Kutum market on a daily basis and use sign language to purchase goods, considering they do not speak the local language. They were last seen at the market on Monday and eyewitnesses claim they use Francs (savah), a currency mostly used in western African countries, while others use US dollars.

Displaced living in Kassab told Radio Dabanga they do not feel safe to leave the camp to collect firewood or to fetch water due to the presence of militants from Mali nearby.

Civilians are urging local and federal authorities to expel these groups from Sudan and keep them away from the country. They further urged the UN and international organizations to intervene.

"Syrian pilots, Malian fighters"

A Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader accused the Sudanese central government of using pilots from Syria and militants from Mali in Darfur, when speaking at a seminar in Cairo, Egypt.

According to Abubakar Hamid Nour, the Syrians are piloting Antonov airplanes and shelling Darfur.

He added that Khartoum has "succeeded" in distorting the reality of the conflict in Darfur, depicting it as a "war between the Arabs and the black" and that Darfur armed movements are anti-Islam.

Nour is also accusing the former Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail of distorting facts and portraying an unrealistic image about the nature of the conflict in Darfur during previous tours in Arab countries.

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