At least two people have been killed and 39 others wounded in an attack by Sudanese army soldiers on Nierteti in Central Darfur on Sunday morning.
Voices from across Sudan’s political spectrum have united in condemning the attack. Several political parties have issues strongly-worded statements. Central Darfur Governor Jaafar Abdelhakam has called a press conference for this afternoon.
Witnesses, including some of the wounded told Radio Dabanga that the incident occurred when an army force, driving four Land Cruisers mounted with machine guns, stormed the town and opened fire. It seems that the attack was in response to the killing of one of the army personnel by unknown assailants in Nierteti on Friday.
Witnesses said that student Feisal Mohamed Ahmed Ishag of Nierteti secondary school, and basic schoolgirl Teyseer Adam Mohamed Ishag, were both killed while within their homes. 16 other people, including women and children, were injured in the gunfire.
The callers reported that 19 more people were either stabbed or beaten with rifle butts by the army personnel. Four Nierteti policemen also reportedly suffered various injuries.
Another army force then stormed Nierteti market, stole mobile phones and goods from shops and stalls estimated at SDG 50,000 ($7,700). They also plundered some houses in the city.
A third group of soldiers stormed the northern camp for displaced, and stole mobile phones and goods from Koga market.
Callers and activists described the situation in Nierteti as ‘tense’: the schools are still closed and people have remained in their homes since early morning amid arrival of a high delegation from the state government from Zalingei to calm the situation.
The witnesses also said that Unamid did not react to the attack in any way.
The residents of Nierteti locality held the military garrison commander, Colonel Mohamed El Tayeb, and the locality’s Commissioner fully responsible for the incidents.
They strongly demanded the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime, headed by the commander of the garrison who is accused of issuing instructions to attack on the people of the city.
The coordinator of the displaced people of Central Darfur condemned the incidents that took place in Nierteti and described the attack on the innocent people as “barbaric and brutal”.
The coordinator held the state Governor and Unamid responsible for the incidents “because of their inability to protect the civilians”.
On Sunday El Shafee Abdallah, the Coordinator of Central Darfur camps told Radio Dabanga that the attack by the armed forces is condemned and denounced in the strongest terms.
Yasir Arman, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) issued a statement saying Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and his government “celebrated the New Year by committing a war crime and carrying out revenge against the civilian populations in the state of Central Darfur…”
The SPLM-N calls on the Sudanese public “to stand against genocide and war crimes and it appeals to the United Nations Security Council, the United States, and the European Union to take measures against General Bashir. This massacre is reminding all of the international stakeholders of the need for civilian protection in Sudan rather than rewarding General Bashir and casting a blind eye on his war crimes.”
Darfur Union UK
Civil society organisation Darfur Union in the United Kingdom issued a statement on their blog saying that “First of January 2017 marks the first atrocity committed by the government of Sudan in Central Darfur”. The statement continues: “The residents of Nierteti and its localities have welcomed the new year with much sadness and sorrow. Darfur Union in the UK plea to the United Nation Security Council and UK government to open an International lead investigation with regards to the latest crimes and violations of human rights taken place in central Darfur by the government troops.”
The Darfur Union statement lists 11 dead and 24 injured civilians, but those have yet to be independently verified.
Social media campaign
Voices from across Sudanese society have rallied to a social media campaign condemning the attacks under the hashtags #sudanese_blood_spilled_again and #Nertiti_massacre_darfur which show graphic images of the dead.