Sudan’s Indiscriminate Bombing Leaves Civilian Toll, Groups Say

Sudanese government forces have carried out indiscriminate bombing and arbitrary detentions and blocked aid to civilians in their battle against rebels in two states, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said government soldiers have also assaulted and raped women and girls. Both sides in the conflict in the oil-rich Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states are guilty of abuses, the two rights groups said yesterday. Sudan’s army spokesman, al-Sawarmi Khalid, didn’t answer two calls seeking comment. Sudanese officials have repeatedly denied targeting non-combatants.

“Along with the fighting come serious violations of international humanitarian and human-rights laws by both sides, but predominantly by the government of Sudan,” Jehanne Henry, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Sudan’s persistent indiscriminate bombing has been killing, wounding and maiming women, men and children, and damaging their homes, farms, schools, clinics and other civilian structures.”

Fighting between government forces and rebels broke out in June 2011 in Southern Kordofan and spread to neighboring Blue Nile three months later. Insurgents loyal to the Sudan People’s Liberation Front-North were formerly part of the army that fought a two-decade civil war that led to the south’s independence last year, before they were left on the Sudanese side of the border after secession.

War Refugees

The United Nations refugee agency says at least 180,000 civilians have fled to camps in South Sudan, and about 30,000 more are in Ethiopia.

Both rights groups said the insurgents shelled Kadugli, the Southern Kordofan capital. Amnesty said in a statement that the rebels fired heavy weaponry “inappropriate for use in an urban environment when civilians are present.” The bombardments killed 18 civilians in October and November, Human Rights Watch said in its report.

Human Rights Watch urged the UN, the African Union, the Arab League and the European Union to put pressure on Sudan to end indiscriminate bombing and the blocking of aid and called for an independent commission to investigate violations by both sides.

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