U.N.: Villages attacked in Sudan's Darfur

The fresh attacks followed the U.N. expressing concern over rising number of displaced people

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Peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region said Wednesday they have received fresh reports of villages attacked and burned, after the U.N. expressed worry over a rising number of displaced people.

The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said it had been told about attacks Sunday and Monday in Hashaba, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of the North Darfur state capital El Fasher.

"These attacks allegedly left people displaced, and villages burned, and some fatalities," said a UNAMID public information officer. "The mission is still in the process of verifying this incident." Separate reports received by UNAMID spoke of attacks, also early this week, in a region southwest of El Fasher, the officer said, adding that newly displaced people have arrived at a camp near the town of Shangil Tobaya.

North Darfur in particular has been plagued by unrest since late February.

Insurgents attacked an area in the state's southeast and briefly seized Mellit town north of the capital, while militia took Saraf Omra town in the west.

Local sources said militia, including a unit known as the Rapid Support Forces, were suspected in this week's incidents. The Rapid Support troops were also suspected of attacks on villages in South Darfur in recent weeks.

Analysts say Sudan's cash-starved government can no longer control its former Arab tribal allies, whom it armed against an 11-year-old rebellion, and violent competition for resources has intensified.

More than 100,000 people have fled their homes because of violence in Darfur this year, on top of at least 380,000 last year, the U.N. says.

That has helped boost the number of Sudanese needing aid by more than 40 percent over the past year, to 6.1 million, John Ging, the U.N. director of humanitarian operations, said on Tuesday in Khartoum.