500 border guards supporting militias in besieged S Darfur camp

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NYALA (14 Mar.) -

In the fourth day of assaults at a South Darfur camp, militias have reportedly received the back-up of 500 border guards on Thursday. In the last days, insurgents have "closed off the site’s gates and invaded a school and a café leaving at least two critically injured".

Bielel locality's commissioner confirmed receiving reports about the tensions when speaking to Radio Dabanga.

The displaced camp of El Salam, home to some 65.000 displaced, has been under attack by militias who arrived in the neighborhood in 25 vehicles in the beginning of the week. Residents of nearby villages also claimed to be “terrorized” by the militants.

Late on Thursday, the rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) told Radio Dabanga they clashed with the Sudanese army (SAF) in two separate battles in Bielel locality.

Adam Saleh Abkar, SLM-MM military spokesman, said the rebels were on their way to help the displaced of El Salam and the troops were ordered to “crush” them.

The first clashes took place in the afternoon near the village of Kamscre, located in the vicinity of Kashalango where some of the militias have been based.

Abkar said the rebels killed and injured a number of Sudanese soldiers and seized their weapons and military equipment. He added “the casualties’ inventory is still ongoing” and the “defeated” SAF-soldiers fled towards Bielel city.

Also on Thursday the SLM-MM claims to have clashed with another government convoy coming from Manawashi, north of Nyala, that was heading towards an area “controlled” by the rebels near El Salam camp.

"SLM-MM will continue fighting until El Salam, Kashalango and its surrounding villages are freed from the militias after being under siege for four days", the spokesman announced.

Radio Dabanga could not contact the SAF for comments.

500 border guards

Meanwhile, displaced of El Salam camp told Radio Dabanga that 500 border guards stormed the site at 10:00am on Thursday “to support” the pro-government militia convoy that has been stationed in the area.

They were wearing military uniforms and riding horses and camels, sources said. According to the displaced, insurgents beat camp’s residents, especially women, with sticks, whips and rifle butts. In addition, homes and properties were looted.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that border guards have completely surrounded the camp and have also blocked the road between Nyala and El Salam. They claim to be living in fear due to the threat of imminent “violent” attacks by the militias.

Kashalango and Umm Shagag, villages located near the El Salam camp, were also plundered by militias, sources said, noting they carried out “a widespread raiding campaign” in the area looting cattle and shops.

Witnesses said these attacks led to a large displacement of inhabitants from these communities to El Salam.

El Salam’s residents are demanding local and state authorities to halt the violations and abuses by border guards and expel them from the area immediately. They are also demanding UNAMID to “fulfill its role and protect the displaced”.

Commissioner confirms attacks

The Commissioner of Bielel locality Yaqub Mursal Tagal confirmed receiving reports that indicate the displaced of El Salam are being attacked and looted by “armed groups”.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Thursday, he announced a security committee would go to the camp to assess the local conditions and find out what is really happening in the area.

Tagal revealed that a camp’s policeman has been shot on the foot by the “armed groups”.