Home | News    Wednesday 6 August 2003

Khartoum stepping up arrests in strife-torn Darfur: Amnesty

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CAIRO, Aug 6 (AFP) — The Sudanese government has stepped up arbitrary arrests, particularly in the western region of Darfur where a new guerrilla war is developing, Amnesty International said in a statement.

"Amnesty International strongly condemns the stepping up of arbitrary arrests by the Sudanese authorities, particularly in Darfur, western Sudan, where a new internal armed conflict is developing," the rights group said.

Amesty reported "allegations of arrests of members of the Fur and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the context of the fighting" between the army and rebels in the areas of Kuttum and Tina in North Darfur.

"In the whole of the Darfur region ... the Sudanese authorities have resorted to arresting and detaining incommunicado many people suspected of sympathizing with the armed group."

In the same statement received here late Tuesday, Amnesty welcomed the release in Khartoum of 32 political detainees "including students, peaceful activists and members of opposition parties who have been detained incommunicado without charge for months."

Darfur is an isolated and partially desert region on Sudan’s border with Chad where perceived government support for Arab militias has spawned a rebellion among non-Arab communities, including the Fur and Zaghawa.

On Tuesday, the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) announced it has "voluntarily" withdrawn its forces from Kuttum, the second largest town in North Darfur state which it captured on August 1, in order to spare its inhabitants the casualties that would have followed a government assault to recapture the town.

The SLM began life as the Darfur Liberation Movement in August 2001 before re-emerging under its current name in February when it began claiming responsibility for a series of anti-government attacks.

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