KHARTOUM – The UN has sent a second observer mission into the Darfur town that was burned down and looted while under Sudanese government control.
Rebel forces blame the government and Janjaweed militias for the destruction of Haskanita – and for last week’s attack on an AU base.
The Justice and Equality Movement told the BBC that proof lies in a photograph of a green military tank in the town. The UN observer mission did not say which forces destroyed Haskanita.
The London spokesman for the JEM, Haroun Abdul Hameed, said that only Sudanese army tanks are green; “the rebels have no tanks” and the “African Union vehicles are white”.
He admitted that this was the only evidence the rebels have to suggest that government forces, or their militia allies, were responsible for the razing of Haskanita.
The Sudanese government has not commented.
Haskanita burned to the ground, days after 10 African Union troops were killed there in an armed attack, the UN and AU confirmed in a joint statement on Sunday.
Residents of Haskanita and surrounding villages fled into the bush or to other towns after it was torched. A large group of armed men attacked a small AU base on September 29, leaving seven Nigerian peacekeepers dead, alongside three other African soldiers, from Mali, Senegal and Botswana, near Haskanita.
The raiders destroyed buildings, vandalised AU armoured personnel carriers and stole arms. Suleiman Jamous of the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) Unity faction, told Reuters a large number of people had been killed in the town. Rebel leaders said on Friday at least 100 people had been killed.
News of the destruction came as the AU said they were planning to rebuild their base near the town, and defend the new outpost it with predominantly Nigerian soldiers.
The AU is investigating who was behind the September 29 attack. Rebel splinter groups have been blamed although key insurgent commanders have denied ordering an attack.
Experts estimate 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes as mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms in early 2003 accusing the government of neglect. Khartoum mobilised mainly Arab militias to quell the revolt.