Arab militia resumes attacks
on black African villages

Monday, August 16, 2004

LONDON The regime-backed Janjaweed militia is again directing air attacks on black Africans in Sudan's Darfour province.

Western diplomats and relief officials said Janjaweed fighters have been seen strafing black African villages in Darfour despite Khartoum's pledge to stop the Arab militia.

They said Janjaweed personnel have been directing the attacks from both Russian-origin Mi-24 helicopters and Antonov An-24 air transports as well as from the ground.

Janjaweed fighters were said to have been trained to serve on crews of the Mi-24 and An-24 aircraft in strafing and bombing missions throughout Darfour. But amid heavy U.S. pressure, the air attacks were halted for several weeks before resuming in early August, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Fresh violence today included helicopter gunship bombings by the Sudanese government and Janjaweed attacks in South Darfour," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement from Geneva on Aug. 10. "Janjaweed attacks on internally displaced persons in and around IDP settlements continue to be reported in all three Darfour states."

The diplomats said many of the Janjaweed have resumed air attacks as members of Sudan's military. Khartoum has rejected demands to prosecute Janjaweed leaders, rather has incorporated the militia into the police, military and security forces.

"As we've said before, there continue the security situation in Darfur remains wholly inadequate," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. "There is not the level of disarming and the level of prosecution and arrest and containment of the Janjaweed that has been committed to both in the communique with the secretary-general, July 3rd, and in the plan with the UN and the government of Sudan."

The United States has confirmed that Sudan has purchased and received 12 MiG-29 fighter-jets from Russia. A U.S. diplomat in Khartoum reported the value of the deal at $300 million, 50 percent above the estimate given by Russian defense industry sources.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Sudan of failing to implement its pledge to stop Janjaweed and halt atrocities against black Africans in Darfour. The group in a report entitled, "Empty Promises: Continuing Abuses in Darfur, Sudan," said Janjaweed and Sudanese soldiers have continued raping, pillaging and killing during their attacks on civilian communities.

"In response to the Security Council's demand that Janjaweed militia members be disarmed, the Sudanese government has instead begun to incorporate them into official state security units," Human Rights Watch said.

Egypt, Libya and Algeria were said to have agreed to send ceasefire observers to Darfour. Sudan has rejected a proposal for an African Union peace-keeping force.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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