February 16, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – A United Nations committee that is tasked with monitoring compliance with Sudan-related sanctions has pointed fingers at Khartoum for attacks that took place on African Union-United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur (UNAMID) in the towns of Muhajiriya and Khor Abeche last year.
- A Nigerian peacekeeper based in El Geneina, West Darfur, inspects a car, with remnants of blood, transporting Senegalese soldiers ambushed by unknown assailants. Three soldiers were killed on 13 October 2013 (Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID)
"Janjaweed groups almost certainly played a leading role in the most prominent attacks against UNAMID (in Khor Abeche on 13 July 2013 and in Muhajeria on 18/19 April 2013); the attackers fit the profile of some well-known Janjaweed elements. These groups have also been behind violent crimes against internally displaced persons, tribes and even, in some instances, the Government itself," reads the report prepared by the UN Panel of Experts on the Sudan established pursuant to resolution 1591 and transmitted to UN Security Council this week.
The report obtained by Sudan Tribune which has not yet been made public, analyzed the April 2013 incident in Muhajiriya following its recapture from the rebel group of Sudan Liberation Army of Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM).
"At approximately 8.30 p.m. on 18 April 2013, between three and five 80 armed men in army uniforms forced entry into the UNAMID team site by firing at the gate lock. Once inside, they fired at United Nations civilian police personnel, who escaped unhurt. The bullets hit some of the installations, however. The attackers loudly asked why UNAMID had not stopped the killing of government soldiers during the SLA/MM attack on Muhajeria. Although this accusation had no merit, because it is not the role of UNAMID to protect the national armed forces, it does suggest a perceived motive of “retaliation” on the part of local government forces for this particular short attack of 10 minutes. The assailants escaped unharmed," the panel wrote.
"At approximately 1.10 a.m. on 19 April 2013, a more determined attack lasted two hours. A group of armed persons attacked the team site with assault rifles and vehicle-mounted machine guns. While NIBATT34 repelled the attack, one soldier was killed and two more injured. The attackers suffered one confirmed fatality. At about 8 a.m., a group of vehicles with mounted machine guns surrounded the team site; the occupants were shooting unaimed shots into the air. The assailants, accompanied by some allegedly government soldiers, entered the UNAMID team site and demanded to talk to the commander. Some witnesses stated that the leader of the group was extremely aggressive towards the commander and asked him whether he was the commander who had killed his men. He demanded compensation of 250,000 Sudanese pounds ($56,800) or he would launch a new attack and destroy the team site. UNAMID reinforcements arrived during the discussions and the situation was defused. The aggressors left the team site".
Shortly afterwards, the then East Darfur state governor Abdel-Hamid Musa Kasha visited UNAMID to assure them that there was no need to pay the blood money demanded and that the incident would not be repeated.
The report says that the panel got hold of evidence showing that the attack was carried out by a group known as "Savana" that is led by a man known as Mohamed Adam.
"The group has previously received arms and training from the Government and participated directly in the recovery of Labado and Muhajeria. There is further evidence to suggest that the Government has assigned the group responsibility for controlling 11 areas in Southern and Eastern Darfur, including Donkey Dresa, Um Kasola, Ngunya, Graida, Labado, Shearia, Muhajeria and Assalaya. The Panel is almost certain that this attack was carried out by Savana members, with the knowledge, acquiescence and/or support of the national armed forces".
The committee asserted that the involvement of the government in the attack is "highly probable" because
1. The Government was in tactical control of the local Muhajeria area at the moment of the attacks;
2. Government soldiers visited the UNAMID team site just hours before and after the attacks;
3. The Government was aware that the UNAMID team site was under strength because the Government had delayed the planned troop rotation before, and reinforcements during, the attacks;
4. It is highly probable that the government soldier who sought refuge within the UNAMID team site provided intelligence as to the operational environment there;
5. The strength and duration of the attacks could not have gone unnoticed by government security forces in the immediate area of the UNAMID team site;
6. The issue of blood money was raised by a national armed forces officer;
7. The attacks were implicitly accepted by the local government representative (Wali), who gave instructions that no blood money was actually required;
8. Neither the Special Prosecutor for crimes committed in Darfur, nor any other appropriate government investigative agency, has yet initiated any formal investigation;
9. The Government has to date failed to share any information on this case, the formal and informal requests made to it notwithstanding.
The second attack which took the form of an ambush in July 2013 occurred when a UNAMID patrol was attacked about 22 km from the team site at Khor Abeche. Eight UNAMID officers were killed and sixteen were wounded of which "at least two peacekeepers were killed in cold blood".
"Although the Panel has strong information on possible or alleged names of the perpetrators, it has still to obtain independent confirmatory evidence. It is, however, highly probable that the assailants were members of a Janjaweed group".
The panel however, acknowledged that some Janjaweed groups may have been acting on their own in some instances but nonetheless blamed the government "because it is highly probable that it continues to arm, support, use or tolerate many of the Janjaweed factions".
"It is the responsibility of the Government to investigate and prosecute each of the crimes in which these armed groups are alleged to be involved. The Panel is unaware of any tangible result, other than some public statements, about the fulfillment of the Government’s obligations in this regard".
The panel also said it had no evidence linking rebel groups to the attacks on UNAMID during the reporting period.
Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed leader charged by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, is being investigated by the panel for his recent activity in the restive region.
"He [Kushayb] reportedly gave an incendiary speech at a market in Southern Darfur late in January 2013, during which he reportedly stated that he was not just a Central Reserve Police commander but also a Janjaweed commander able to defend its Ta’aisha land and called upon Ta’aisha fighters to protect their land. Other witnesses stated that he was observed taking part in attacks in April 2013 on villages around Abu Jeradil, Central Darfur" the panel said citing Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released last summer.
The Sudanese government has previously detained the militia leader to try him on unspecified charges in 2007 & 2008 but released him for lack of evidence.
NEW DETAILS ON THE KILLING OF JEM DISSIDENTS
The report also shed new light on the killing of the leaders of a breakaway faction of the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) last May including its chief Mohamed Bashar and his deputy, Suleiman Arko.
Bashar, who led a splinter JEM faction, was returning to Darfur from the Chadian capital before heading to Khartoum to start the implementation of a peace deal he signed with the government in Doha on April 6th.
At the time, the mainstream group led by Gibril Ibrahim said they were attacked by Bashar group inside the Sudanese territory, and stressed that the two leading commanders were killed during the clashes. The holdout rebels also pointed out that people captured after the fighting, are "defectors" from the movement and they will be tried before its courts.
The UN panel said that Bashar received a telephone call from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) "informing him that someone within his entourage was providing information to JEM and that an attack was imminent. The JEM informant, a Chadian, had provided logistical support (vehicles) to JEM when JEM was still a single entity".
But before Bashar could confront the informant, his group was attacked "by overwhelming firepower and so were unable to defend themselves effectively".
The witnesses who were interviewed by the panel agreed that Bashar and Arko were gravely wounded during the initial attack but were later executed along with four others. They also claimed that JEM captured between 28 and 32 members of JEM-Bashar and were told they will be tried as traitors.
The report pointed that they may be kept by JEM in areas of South Sudan and South Kordofan but that there is no confirmation that they are still alive.
The JEM attackers were identified by the witnesses to be Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim (also known as Sultan), Mahdi Ismail (also known as Djabal Moune/Jebel Moon) and Fidiel Mohamed Rohema, who was the ground commander and was subsequently killed in action in November 2013.
The report said that during meetings with the Panel, the representatives of JEM were clear that the incident should be regarded as an internal JEM struggle in which the group applied its own “honour code” to an act of treason, rather than as an impediment to the peace process.