By Spy Correspondent
Sudan: Gunmen killed at least 20 people, including children, who were visiting their farms in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region for the first time in years, a tribal chief said Saturday.
“Two months ago the government organised a meeting between the original landowners and those who took their fields” during the long-running war in Darfur, Ibrahim Ahmad told our reporter.
“An agreement was reached whereby the landowners would return to their fields but armed men came on Friday and opened fire, killing 20 people, including two women and children.”
The killings took place in Aboudos, some 90 kilometres south of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur province, the tribal chief said adding that around 20 people were wounded in the attack.
The death toll “could increase, because some of the wounded are in a terrible condition”, he added.
Darfur has been devastated since 2003 by a conflict between ethnic minority rebels, complaining of marginalisation, and forces loyal to now ousted president Omar al-Bashir, including the feared Janjaweed militia, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes.
The fighting killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million others, according to the United Nations.
A power sharing transitional government between civilians and the military was sworn in during September last year.
In January this year, a coalition of nine rebel groups including factions from Darfur signed a preliminary agreement with the government after weeks of talks.
Darfur is a region in western Sudan meaning ‘Dār’ an Arabic word meaning “home [of]” – the region was named Dardaju while ruled by the Daju, who migrated from Meroë c. 350 AD, and it was then renamed Dartunjur when the Tunjur ruled the area.
The region is also known as War in Darfur, also nicknamed the Land Cruiser War, is a major armed conflict in Sudan that began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups began fighting the government of Sudan, which they accused of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.
The government responded to attacks by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur’s non-Arabs. This resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the indictment of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.