June 13, 2019 / 12:47 PM / 3 months ago

U.N. says it confirms 17 deaths in central Darfur region of Sudan

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Thursday it had confirmed the killing of 17 people and the burning of more than 100 houses in Deleij village in Sudan’s central Darfur region earlier this week.

The United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur also said 15 people were injured and the violence “occurred during heated clashes between nomads and residents apparently angered by the increase in commodity prices at the local market”.

Opposition medics said “Janjaweed militias” fired live ammunition at civilians on Monday at a market in Deleij, killing 11 people and wounding 20 others.

The Janjaweed are Arab militias who have been accused of committing atrocities in Darfur during a civil conflict that started in 2003 and, according to U.N. estimates, has killed up to 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million.

Ousted President Omar al-Bashir’s government denied the allegations on Darfur.

Janjaweed fighters were incorporated into Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have been the dominant force in the capital Khartoum since Bashir was overthrown on April 11.

The deputy head of the military council that took power after Bashir left, Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, heads the RSF.

Witnesses said the RSF led a raid on a protest sit-in in Khartoum on June 3 that left dozens dead and led to the collapse of talks between the military council and protest and opposition groups pushing for a democratic transition.

The military council has said forces moved in to deal with disruptive groups near the sit-in and the violence spread from there. It also said that some RSF members had been attacked and that people had put on their uniforms to impersonate them in an attempt to harm their reputation.

This week Amnesty International said it had new evidence showing that “Sudanese government forces, including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias, have continued to commit war crimes and other serious human rights violations in Darfur”.

At least 45 villages were completely or partially destroyed in the past year, Amnesty said.

“In Darfur, as in Khartoum, we’ve witnessed the Rapid Support Forces’ despicable brutality against Sudanese civilians – the only difference being, in Darfur they have committed atrocities with impunity for years,” said Amnesty Secretary General Kumi Naidoo.

The RSF could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Frances Kerry

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