More than thirty African Sudanese civilians were killed at the Aro Sharow refugee camp in the western province of Darfur. A United Nations High Commission on Refugees monitoring team said in a news release that, "According to the survivors, after entering the camp, the two-hundred-fifty [to] three-hundred armed Arab men divided into three groups: one peeled off to steal the cattle; a second set about chasing and killing people in the camp; and a third set fire to the flimsy shelters in which the displaced people have been living since abandoning their villages in the area because of similar attacks." U.N. spokesman Ron Redmond says all thirty-four of the victims were men:
"The UNHCR team witnessed the burial of one of the thirty-four and said the man appeared to have his arms bound before he was killed. Witnesses in the camp said he had been tied up and dragged to his death behind a horse."
Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003 after rebels complained that the region had been marginalized by the central government. The rebels attacked Sudanese government facilities. Supported by the government, Arab Janjaweed militia launched attacks on civilians from Sudan's African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups in Darfur.
In July, the Sudanese government and rebels from the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement agreed on a declaration of principles. The document calls for the guarantee of tribal ownership of land in Darfur and for increased autonomy for the region. It also calls for an end to hostilities.
With the support of the U.S., the European Union, and others, the African Union is currently mediating negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria, between the Sudanese government, and the rebels. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that in Darfur, the ultimate answer lies in seeking political solutions and accepting accountability:
“The United States strongly condemns the upsurge of violence in Darfur by all the parties. We expect the Sudanese government to immediately halt attacks and to stop the Janjaweed from perpetrating violence. I would also note that there were also attacks by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army as well. We call on all parties to abstain from violence."
"It is the responsibility of the Sudanese government to protect its people," says Mr. McCormack. "Part of that responsibility," he says, "is seeing that these groups, including the Janjaweed, do not commit violence against the Sudanese people."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.