U.N. concerned as violence rises in Darfur
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Murder, rape and abductions are on the rise in West Darfur state, the United Nations said on Wednesday, noting with concern that increased violence in the lawless Sudanese region had driven more people into camps.
U.N. spokeswoman Radhia Achouri detailed reports of tribal killings, and militia and aerial attacks on villages.
"Of particular concern is the recent upsurge in car-jacking, killings, abductions and rape in the area of Zalingei ( West Darfur State)," she told reporters in Khartoum.
International experts estimate 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven into miserable camps during more than four years of violence in the region bordering Chad.
Masked men shot dead a tribal leader in the Khamsa Daqaa'iq camp in West Darfur, Achouri said.
She added some 200 Arab militiamen on horse back attacked on June 24 near Jabel Moon, a mountainous area in West Darfur, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties.
Reports of aerial bombardment and militia activity in South Darfur have also caused thousands of people to flee their homes for the relative safety of camps.
"Al Salam camp (South Darfur), which had a population of 13,300 in March, now houses 28,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), with reports of 5,000 still on their way," Achouri told reporters.
The rise in violence comes two weeks after the Sudanese government agreed to the deployment of a U.N.-AU joint force of thousands of troops to replace the African Union force that has proved ineffective.
Washington calls the rape, murder and looting in Darfur genocide, a term European governments are reluctant to use and Khartoum rejects. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir puts the death toll at 9,000.
Since a peace deal last year, signed by only one of three rebel negotiating factions, the rebels have split into more than a dozen groups.
A U.N. human rights team recently visited Kutum, Kabkabiya and Al Kuma towns in North Darfur and documented many cases of continued violence against civilians, according to Achouri.
An attack on June 8 by Janjaweed Arab militias on Mutu village, also in North Darfur state, killed two people, the U.N. team reported.
Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in Darfur in early 2003, accusing the central government of neglecting the arid region.
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