Images show destruction in Darfur

2013-06-19 09:07
Darfur Unamid patrol (AFP)

Darfur Unamid patrol (AFP)

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Johannesburg - Satellite images released on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch show widespread destruction in recent attacks carried out in central Darfur by the Sudanese government and allied militia.

The images indicate some 2 800 buildings were burned to the ground in Abu Jeradil village and four neighbouring villages. According to the New York-based right group, this accounts for 88% of all buildings in the area.

At least 42 villagers were killed in the attacks in April. Witnesses said government officials and vehicles were involved and there was also rampant looting of basic goods, including food and livestock.

Government forces were said to have refrained from intervening in the attacks and also allegedly prevented peacekeepers from the African Union-Union Nations hybrid force from reaching the area.

The victims are members of the Salamat Arab ethnic group, who charge that the attackers are from nearby, smaller Arab groups.

According to witnesses quoted by Human Rights Watch, Ali Mohammed Ali -who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity committed in other parts of Darfur a decade ago - was at the scene of the attacks.

Ali, known by his nom de guerre Ali Kosheib, is currently a high ranking commander in the Sudanese police.

"Sudanese authorities should immediately rein in pro-government forces and hold those responsible for serious abuses to account," said Daniel Bekele, the Africa director at the rights lobby.

Bekele called for the government to surrender Ali to the ICC in The Hague.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and several other senior Sudanese officials are wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity charges relating to the war in Darfur, which began in 2003.

More than 200 000 people are believed to have died in the conflict while more than 2.8 million were forced to flee their homes.

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