January 3, 2017 (ZALINGEI) - Central Darfur Governor Jaafar Abdel-Hakam Monday blamed the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) for the bloody attack in Nertiti, while the opposition forces pointed accusing fingers at the government saying its troops committed "the massacre".
- Central Darfur governor, Jaafar Abdel Hakam (Photo SUNA)
"Preliminary investigations conducted by the security authorities in Central of Darfur State show involvement of the SLM-AW elements in the riots that broke out yesterday in the city of Nertiti - in western Jebel Marra," said Abdel Hakam in a press conference held in Zalingei on Monday.
He explained that on Friday they received a note that a soldier had been murdered in Campo forest and transported from the murder scene to Al-Jabal neighbourhood in order to mislead the investigation. The day after, he added, they learnt that doctor had been beaten and his money was looted.
The governor further said they received intelligence saying that six SLM-AW fighters infiltrated the neighborhood, killed the soldier and attacked the doctor. Following what a joint forces from the police, the army and the national security service was dispatched on Sunday morning to arrest the six rebels, the governor said, adding that the culprits opened fires on the government forces and instigated the crowed to attack the forces.
"The group intended to provoke the armed forces and cause chaos," he stressed.
From his part, the commander of 21st infantry division, Gen. Aboud Mansour said the Sudanese army forces were keen to avoid shooting when they arrived to the area. But the inhabitants of the neighbourhood were angered and attacked the troops with sticks and knives when two children were killed by stray bullets fired from unknown sources.
Abdallah Saleh al-Shafie, an IDPs representative in the area on Sunday told Sudan Tribune that the government forces in Nertiti launched an indiscriminate revenge attack on the civilians using heavy and light weapons after a soldier was found dead in the area.
Al-Shafie said that nine people were killed and 60 wounded, some of them are seriously hurt. He added that government troops looted civilian property and broke into shops in Nertiti markets.
The governor said 28 men were wounded, including four policemen and 19 women, adding they were treated from their minor wounds at Zalingei Hospital and discharged on the same day.
Abdel Hakam reiterated his accusation against the SLM-AW saying that the rebel group was involved in the events.
The Deputy Governor Mohamed Musa Ahmed said that calm had returned to Nertiti and pledged to pay the blood-prince to the victims’ families, treat the wounded and compensate the affected people.
Sudanese opposition groups condemned the killing of civilians pointing to the lack of security and the chaos in the western Sudan region.
"The Sudanese regime inaugurated the new year with this heinous massacre against unarmed civilians, which led to the deaths of dozens of martyrs, besides the wounded and detainees and missing persons," said Abdel-Wahid al-Nur in a statement he issued on Monday.
He further denounced the inertia of the UNAMID peacekeepers who didn’t intervene to protect civilians describing their attitude as the "The worst form of collusion with the Khartoum regime".
The rebel leader called on the Sudanese opposition forces to support the action of Sudanese youth who work to achieve a civilian disobedience to topple the regime.
The SLM-AW is not part of the African Union brokered peace process to end Darfur crisis. During the year 2016, the group fought against the government forces in the western area of Jebel Marra for several months.
However, the government failed to clear the region from the rebel group. The governor in the past months admitted the existence of "some pockets" in the state.
The National Umma Party of Sadiq al-Mahdi condemned the killing of civilians saying it constitutes a "full-fledged crime" and condemned the silence of the international community.