Air strikes by the Sudanese army on villages in the western region of Darfur yesterday left an unknown number of casualties, the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission said today.
The attacks took place on the villages of Labado and Esheraya in South Darfur state, the mission said in an e-mailed statement. A team will be sent to the villages to determine the number of injured, it said.
“There’s a very real concern that civilians may be among the casualties,” Chris Cycmanick, a spokesman for the mission, said by phone from El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.
The Sudanese army said it carried out a reconnaissance mission in the area on May 14 to see the location of rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement and that it did not attack the villages or the rebels. The army is chasing JEM fighters who have been making “suspicious movements” in the area, army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled said today by phone from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
Insurgents in Darfur took up arms in 2003, accusing the government of neglecting the region. The conflict has led to the deaths of as many as 300,000 people, mainly due to illness and starvation, and forced about 2.7 million to flee their homes, according to UN estimates. The Sudanese government has put the death toll at about 10,000.