Mass grave with at least 87 bodies found in Sudan’s volatile Darfur region, says United Nations


The bodies of dozens of people allegedly killed by Sudanese paramilitary forces and an allied militia have been discovered in a mass grave in western Darfur, the United Nations said on Thursday.

According to «credible information» obtained by the UN Human Rights Office, at least 87 people, some of them from the ethnic African Masalit tribe, were killed by paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and an affiliated Arab militia.

Their bodies were dumped in a grave on the outskirts of the West Darfur town of Geneina, the agency said.

Sudan has been rocked by violence since mid-April, when tensions between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces erupted into open clashes.

Darfur has been one of the epicenters of the 12-week conflict, turning into a scene of ethnic violence with paramilitary troops and allied Arab militias targeting the Masalit and other African ethnic groups.

The first 37 bodies were buried in the shallow grave on June 20, the UN agency said in a statement from Geneva. The next day another 50 bodies were dumped on the same site. Seven women and seven children were among those buried.

RSF and the Arab militia forced local residents to bury the bodies, the UN agency said. The killings took place between June 13 and 21 in the city’s Al-Madaress and Al-Jamarek districts, following violence that erupted following the assassination of the West Darfur governor, he added.

The governor, Khamis Abdalla Abkar, accused the RSF and allied militias of attacking local communities in Geneina in an interview with the Saudi-owned television station, Al-Hadath. Hours later, he was kidnapped and killed in circumstances that remain unclear.

In the past two months, paramilitaries and their allies have rampaged through western Darfur, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, rights groups say. Just over 238,000 people have crossed the border into neighboring Chad, according to recent figures from the International Organization for Migration.

Amid the looting, entire cities and towns in West Darfur province have been burnt down and looted.

The news of the mass grave comes just days after Human Rights Watch called on the International Criminal Court to investigate atrocities in Darfur. Highlighting his call, he pointed to the «summary executions» of at least 28 Masalit tribesmen by RSF and allied Arab militias in the town of Misterei, also in West Darfur province.

The New York-based human rights group said several thousand members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and their allies rampaged through Misterei on May 28 armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, before massacring their followers. Masalit male inhabitants. A total of 97 people were killed in the attack, he said.

Darfur had been the scene of a genocidal war in the early 2000s, when ethnic Africans revolted and accused the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum of discrimination. The government of former dictator Omar al-Bashir was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes, known as the Janjaweed, who attacked civilians.

JanJaweed fighters joined the RSF.

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