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Killings and destruction in Nyala

07.07.13

More fighting feared after severe wounding of Ali Kosheib

Civliians are in increasing danger, caught in the crossfire in a new cycle of conflict which started on 2 July 2013 in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.

The present deaths and destruction in Nyala have been triggered by fierce conflicts between the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and Sudan government militias, including the Janjawid, still powerful in Darfur. The streets in Nyala are reportedly deserted and the people are in a state of fear.

A dozen have already been killed since Thursday in Nyala, and two markets and residential quarters have been destroyed. On Sunday Ali Kosheib, wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, was shot and seriously injured by an armed person in NISS uniform and vehicle with an army plate, and his armed guard was killed. The situation is likely to get worse as indiscriminate shelling and revenge killings are almost certain to follow. Meanwhile the Sudan army and UNAMID have done little or nothing to control the situation in Nyala.

Civilians Caught in the Crossfire

The events started with the hijacking of a car belonging to the Commissioner of Nitaifa on the night of Wednesday 3 July; the unknown hijackers escaped. The same night an argument around the premises of the NISS between NISS members and followers of a militia, ended in the killing of the militia leader, Deckrom, and, later, a NISS officer. The militia leader Deckrom was a former Justice and Equality Movement leader, who had split from the main movement to sign a peace agreement with the Khartoum Government. The argument between the NISS and the militia was apparently about who would accompany the convoy to Jeneina, capital of Western Darfur; the successful escort always gains important financial benefits.

After Deckrom’s death, the members of the militia gathered and, using heavy fire, stormed the offices of the NISS in Nyala. During the next days the battle between the two sides, the ex-JEM militia and the NISS, was fought inside Nyala, using heavy weapons. Random shelling on Wednesday and Thursday resulted in the killing five civilians inside their homes, including one child and injuring at least 45. Two of the civilians who were killed worked for the NGO World Vision, they were named locally as Ali Karamalla and Sabeel Mansour Omer.

The fighting continued in the town until midday on Friday. Two of the main markets in Nyala, al-Malaja and al-Mawashi, were completely destroyed and looted, and the premises of NGOs in the vicinity of the NISS compound were smashed up, broken into, and looted.

The Sudanese army and UNAMID failed to control the situation. Meanwhile several members of the government who belong to the area of South and East Darfur, were flown to Nyala to try to calm the situation.

Student deaths

On Sunday 7 July students from Nyala went out on the streets demanding security – and two of the unarmed demonstrators were themselves killed by the NISS. On the same day another group of University graduates, who had gathered to ask for the certificates showing they had completed military service, were also fired on by the NISS, two were killed and several injured.

Attack on Ali Kosheib  

Also on Sunday 7 July, the Janjawid leader, Ali Kosheib, wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was shot near Nyala’s main market by an armed person wearing NISS uniform, from a rival ethnic group. Ali Kosheib’s guard, Mohammed Ismail was killed.

“The deaths and destruction in Nyala are a direct result of the Sudan Government’s policy of using, and allowing impunity, to both security services and numerous militias, all armed with all the heavy weapons they like. What is happening in Nyala shows how the Sudan Government’s impunity for those who kill, which has left the countryside of Darfur devastated, is now bringing chaos also to the cities”, said Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Chair of SUDO (UK).

SUDO(UK) Calls upon the Government of Sudan to:

i) ensure the protection of civilians in Nyala and elsewhere in Darfur;
ii) investigate those responsible for the killings and bring them to justice;
iii) bring to an end the impunity enjoyed by those working for the NISS;
iv) bring to an end the use of militias and ensure that those employed by the Government of Sudan are properly trained, respect the rule of law and are held accountable for their actions;

SUDO (UK) calls upon UNAMID to take measures to ensure the protection of civilians in Nyala and elsewhere in Darfur.

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