UN human rights chief warns of more Darfur attacks

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The Independent Online

Militia movements in Darfur raise the spectre that more atrocities against civilians, similar to an attack last month that killed 50 people, could be committed, the United Nations' top human rights official said yesterday.

Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, urged Sudan's government to control militia in western Darfur that the global body has blamed for the attacks on 29 October which killed mostly young boys and elderly men and caused thousands to flee their homes.

"If the government of Sudan does not take control of the militias, disarm them and put an end to the proliferation of arms, the militias will continue to launch attacks on civilians," Arbour said in a statement.

The United Nations said in a report last week that there were "troubling indications" that Sudan's military participated in the attacks. It said witnesses identified the 300 to 500 attackers as Arabs riding on horseback, wearing green camouflage military uniforms and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Arbour said it was encouraging that the region's governor has begun an investigation into the attacks.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others displaced since the conflict began in February 2003, when Darfur's ethnic African tribesmen took up arms against what they saw as decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab government in Khartoum.