30 civilians killed in Darfur by militiamen, U.N. says

Published December 11, 2006

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Militiamen on horseback ambushed a refugee convoy in Sudan's western Darfur region, killing some 30 civilians, the United Nations and aid workers said Sunday, and African Union peacekeepers called to investigate were briefly taken hostage by other refugees.

With violence in the region worsening, aid workers in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, and the United Nations said progovernment janjaweed militiamen ambushed a truck Saturday outside Sirba on a road near the border with Chad and executed about 30 civilians.

"Some of the passengers were shot by the attackers and others were burnt to death," a U.N. statement said.

The governor of West Darfur denied the attack was carried out by janjaweed, blaming antigovernment rebels he claimed are seeking "to make citizens lose confidence in the African Union."

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5-million have been forced from their homes since ethnic African rebels rose up against Sudan's Arab-dominated government in early 2003.