Ethnic cleansing of Nuba people in Sudan
Khartoum - The Sudanese army, with the support of a government-backed militia, is pursuing a genocidal campaign in South Kordofan, targeting the indigenous Nuba peoples, a Sudan rights group charged on Monday.
In a six-page report, the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDGP) accused government forces of "a raft of crimes and human rights violations committed against the civilian population in Southern Kordofan / Nuba Mountains state."
"Last week, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) supported by the Popular Defence Forces committed atrocities, including summary executions, wanton killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, arson and disappearances in addition to destruction of physical infrastructure and burning of churches particularly in Kadugli and Deleng towns," SDGP said.
Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the allegations.
Fighting between SAF troops and northern members of the former southern rebel army (the SPLA) first broke out in the heavily armed northern border state on June 5.
Fears have been growing among civilians of intensified air strikes in former rebel strongholds, where the non-Arab Nuba peoples fought on the side the SPLA during their devastating 22-year conflict with the Khartoum government.
Other activists in Sudan have warned that the killings taking place in South Kordofan are of a similar nature to the attacks carried out by the Sudanese army in the early 1990s, which they say indiscriminately targeted Nuba civilians, including women and children.
President Omar al-Bashir said last week that the army was clearing South Kordofan of rebels.
The SDGP report alleges that many of the latest atrocities were committed during house-to-house searches for people suspected of sympathizing with southern-aligned troops.
"Further increase in the scale and magnitude of these atrocities may upgrade their classification to crimes against humanity and genocide," the report added, naming 20 civilians, including teachers, medical workers and a priest, who were killed.
Another 66 people were killed in air strikes carried out by Antonov bombers in different locations across South Kordofan, including Talodi, Deleng and Buram, it said.
Six corpses were found in El-Faid Um Abdalla, the village of former deputy governor and senior SPLA commander Abdelaziz al-Hilu.
The report also alleged that about 100 000 people had fled their homes in South Kordofan, significantly more than current UN estimates.
It warned of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation caused by this "massive displacement".
The rights group describes itself as a coalition of democrats, activists and academics representing different cultural and ethnic backgrounds in Sudan. It did not say how it gathered the information for the report.
SDFG said the government had heavily restricted access to the region, making it very difficult for the media to accurately report on the situation there.
But the report accused the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) of appearing "unable to provide information on the humanitarian situation and the scale of the crimes that are being committed."
UNMIS had also failed "to provide the civilian protection required and ensure delivery of urgent humanitarian aid", it added.