Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sudan: UNAMID accused of firing at crowd

Source: Radio Dabanga

Kabkabiya (28 Mar .) - Protests continued for a second day on Wednesday in Kabakabiya camp for displaced people in North Darfur, following the death of five people at Tuesday's protests reportedly shot dead by police.

Yesterday's protest erupted as camp residents learned of plans by the Commissioner of North Darfur to potentially break up the camp that they have lived in for more than nine years.

Today's event was attended by more that 3,000 displaced people and villagers in front of the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) compound. Protestors chanted slogans demanding the policemen that killed Tuesday's demonstrators be taken to justice, said a witness to Radio Dabanga.

Dispersed by force

Witnesses said UNAMID surrounded its HQ with tanks and armoured vehicles reportedly to protect the compound during the peaceful protest.

Demonstrators wrote a note intended for UNAMID to demand the policemen be punished for Tuesday's events. The committee tried to enter the compound to meet UNAMID officials and hand over the note, but soldiers at the gate would not let them in, said a witness to Radio Dabanga.

Protestors then tried to storm the compound at the main gate and started to climb the protective fences. UNAMID soldiers fired shots at those trying to get in, added the witness.

The head of the Darfur Regional Authority Tijani Sissi and UNAMID chief Ibrahmi Gambari were reportedly in the building at the time.

Witnesses said 13 people were wounded with seven said to be in a serious condition.

Khalil Adam Abduallah, Muhammed Adam hamid and Adam Abdullah were reportedly shot in the back and stomach.

Witnesses said peacekeepers also used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Meanwhile, Kabkabiya chief Alshertai Ahmada addressed the demonstrators asking them to stay calm and assured them he would meet with Sissi and Gambari to find a solution.

He reportedly spent six hours negotiating inside the compound.

Peacekeepers fired in self defence

UNAMID stressed its peacekeepers fired only 'into the air and on to the ground' to protect themselves from a mob of protestors charging towards them with 'machetes and rocks'.

'Many of the protestors were armed with machetes and rocks and other things that can harm our peacekeepers so they acted in self defence, but fired into the air and on to the ground as they did not intend to kill anyone, but only to disperse them', said UNAMID spokesman Christopher Cycmanick to Radio Dabanga.

'One of the bullets richocheted off the ground and hit a civilian seriously injuring him in the leg,' added the spokesman.

He also said four UNAMID peacekeepers and four civilians were injured in today's events.

LJM demand investigation

The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) strongly condemned the clashes between police and displaced people that killed five people and injured at least 21.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, head state minister and LJM spokesman Ahmed Fadel said what happened was deplorable and asked why camp residents were now being undermined when they have lived there for more than nine years and there has not been any action or procedure taken to ask them to move.

He said this move was against the peace process in Darfur.

He called for an independent commission to carry out and investigation and for those found responsible to be held accountable.