UN expert urges Sudan to investigate Darfur market killings

A UN-appointed human rights expert Tuesday urged Sudan to investigate a recent attack on a market by suspected government-backed militia in Darfur that left dozens of civilians dead.

Chande Othman said new information appeared to confirm reports that more than 37 people were killed and over 50 injured after a militia group attacked the village of Tabarat in North Darfur on September 2.

“I am deeply disturbed about these killings which highlight the continuing deterioration of thesituation in Darfur,” said Othman, who was appointed an independent expert on the human rights situation in Sudan by the Human Rights Council last October, in a statement.

Othman called on the Sudanese government to conduct “as a matter of urgency a thorough and transparent investigation into the attack on civilians in North Darfur.”

“This incident should be investigated thoroughly and impartially and those responsible should be brought to justice,” he said.

Several witnesses had identified the attackers as Janjaweed, according to the expert.

A Darfur rebel group said on September 3 that Sudanese forces had launched a major offensive using air power on its territory in the area killing 74 people, most of them civilians, and wounding 152 — a claim denied by the army.

The joint UN-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping force which patrols Darfur said it had received reports of dozens of civilians killed in an attack by gunmen on horses and camels on a market in the district.

A UNAMID spokesman, Chris Cycmanick, said at the time that a team of soldiers sent in to investigate was initially driven away by Sudanese army forces.

Since ethnic minority rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum in 2003, around 300,000 people have died in Darfur and 2.7 million have fled their homes, according to the United Nations.

The government in Khartoum says 10,000 people have been killed.