SUDAN WATCH: AU has film of helicopter gunships in two Darfur locations

Thursday, October 06, 2005

AU has film of helicopter gunships in two Darfur locations

Following the African Union's recent statement on the security situation in Darfur, the AU reports Oct 6 it has photographic evidence of helicopter gunships over Darfur but does not say if the film is of the attack on Aro Sharow camp north-west of Darfur Sep 28.

Reuters quote AU Oct 6:
"We reported what we have observed. The report we received from the field said helicopter gunships were observed overhead in two different locations in Darfur," Kingibe told reporters at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

"We have films and pictures. We do not make a statement of that nature, grave as they are, without evidence. If necessary we are ready to show them," he said.
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Note, the UNs' High Commissioner for refugees said Sunday it found no evidence of Sudanese government involvement in the attack on Aro Sharow camp north-west of Darfur Sep 28.

Sudan admits using helicopter gunships in their attack on Shearia South Darfur.

Here is an excerpt from above AU statement Oct 1 re the fight for Shearia in South Darfur that started Sep 19:
"The SLA proceeded to attack and occupy the GOS garrison town of Shearia, as well as some nearby locations on 19 September 2005. These incidences have had such negative impact on the ongoing talks in Abuja that the Chief Negotiator, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, had to issue a strong statement urging restraint. It is against this background that we find it utterly incomprehensible that the GOS Forces which had hitherto not only shown restraint themselves, but used their considerable and known influence on the Arab/Armed militia to restrain them as well, suddenly decided to abandon such responsible behaviour and posture and resorted to the violent destructive and overwhelming use of force not only against the rebel forces, but also on innocent civilian villages and the IDP camps.

Since the Shaeria incidence, a number of coordinated offensive operations have been undertaken by the GOS and the Janjaweed Arab militia. On 18 September 2005, simultaneous attacks at Khartoum Djadeed, Sandego, Khasantongur, Tary, Martal and Djabain resulted in the death of 12 civilians, 5 seriously wounded, and the displacement of about 4,000 civilians. Heavy and small weapons mounted on vehicles were reportedly used by GOS, in close coordination with about 300 Janjaweed Arab militia. Most of the displaced people moved to Zamzam and Tawilla IDP camps.

As you are probably aware on 28 September 2005, just four days ago, some reportedly 400 Janjaweed Arab militia on camels and horse back went on the rampage in Arusharo, Acho and Gozmena villages in West Darfur. Our reports also indicate that the day previous, and indeed on the actual day of the attack, GOS helicopter gunships were observed overhead. This apparent coordinated land and air assault gives credence to the repeated claim by the rebel movements of collusion between the GOS forces and the Janjaweed/Arab militia. This incidence, which was confirmed not only by our investigators but also by workers of humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the area, took a heavy toll resulting in 32 people killed, 4 injured and 7 missing, and about 80 houses/shelter looted and set ablaze."
Also note, Khartoum admitted that government forces clashed with rebels near Tawila camp for displaced persons in North Darfur Sep 29 after the rebels commandeered a truck delivering water to police guarding the camp. The Sudanese army said:
"We do not have aircrafts in West Darfur: our aircrafts are in Al-Fasher (North Darfur) and Nyala (South Darfur) and they are being monitored by the AU."
On 30 March 2005, the UN passed Resolution 1591 on Sudan which, among other things, demanded that the Government of Sudan immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in the region.

Following the recent violations of ceasefire agreements, the African Union said it would hold an emergency meeting in Addis Ababa Oct 3 to consider action. The meeting was postponed to Oct 5 and has now been postponed again, presumably to use it as a bargaining tool during the Darfur peace talks presently being held in Abuja, Nigeria.

Official investigations, involving all parties, are going on into the Janjaweed attack in East Chad Sep 26.

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