KHARTOUM, Sudan – Armed militia have killed at least 11 people and wounded many more in raids on Darfur villages this week, the United Nations said Wednesday.
The attacks, which violated the May 5 peace agreement, occurred in seven villages around the town of Kutum in north Darfur on Monday, the United Nations said.
The United Nations did not blame any specific group for the attacks, but the African Union has said the raids were carried out by the Janjaweed — an Arab militia allegedly backed by the government.
The attacks came as the United Nations and African Union pushed splinter rebel groups to endorse the May 5 agreement between Khartoum and the main rebel leader. Some of the rebels who rejected the peace accord enjoy strong support in the refugee camps of Darfur, a vast, arid region in western Sudan.
The two international organizations also pressed the Sudanese government to fulfill its commitment in the agreement to disarming the Janjaweed, which has been blamed for the bulk of the atrocities in the three-year conflict that has left more than 180,000 people dead and displaced another 2.5 million people.
The government has denied supporting the Janjaweed, but numerous NGOs have said the state supports the militia.
The UN statement said the Sudanese government had arrested 23 people — including five minors — since Monday's clashes between refugees and Sudanese police in a Darfur refugee camp.
At least three people were killed during Monday's riots, including a protester shot by the police and a Sudanese military intelligence officer lynched by the crowd.
In Khartoum, the UN chief's special envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, said there would have to be consultation with the Sudanese government to implement the U.N. Security Council resolution passed Tuesday that called for replacement of the underfunded AU peacekeeping force in Darfur by a larger UN mission.
"Of course, consultations are between equals," Pronk said after meeting with Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha.
In the only government reaction to the U.N. resolution, the chief negotiator for Darfur, Majzoub Khalifa said Wednesday that the motion contained nothing new and was a virtual repeat of previous African Union resolutions.
The government has long resisted the AU force being replaced by a UN force, arguing that an African problem should be handled by Africans. But it is also unwilling to see a world body exercise greater control on the ground in Darfur.
Pronk said he was heading to Darfur later Wednesday to try to persuade the hold-out rebels to sign the peace agreement.
In a UN statement, Pronk said that during his three-day tour of Darfur, he would "promote larger support among armed groups and tribal leaders for the peace deal and ... explain its details and benefits."
The African Union has indicated it would hand over to a U.N. force at the end of September.