Two killed in Darfur arson attack: peacekeepers
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Armed raiders set fire to a refugee camp in Sudan's Darfur region, killing at least two people, peacekeepers said on Wednesday.
The attack on Abu Zor camp, close to regional capital El Geneina, came at a time of heightened tension in Darfur, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's president to face charges of war crimes in the region.
Darfur's joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force said residents reported four armed men broke into the west Darfur camp just before midnight on Tuesday and started a fire.
"I am in the camp now. The fire went everywhere. It has affected a lot of people," said UNAMID chief of staff Amgad Morsy, speaking to Reuters by satellite phone on Wednesday.
"Four people were injured and two have since died," he said, adding the fire had destroyed about a quarter of the camp, home to about 6,000 people, mostly from the non-Arab Masalit ethnic group. The fire was now under control, he said.
International experts say 200,000 have died and 2.7 million have been uprooted in Darfur since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in 2003.
The Masalit were among the ethnic groups that activists say were targeted in a bloody government-led counter-insurgency in Darfur that Washington calls genocide. Khartoum denies the charge and says 10,000 have died in the conflict.
There have been numerous reports of clashes between highly politicized residents of camps in West Darfur and militias, often identified as Arab.
Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement blamed state-backed militias for the fire, which it said killed three. "This is part of a government campaign to clear people out of the camps," said JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam.
The head of the government's Humanitarian Aid Commission Hassabo Mohamed Abd el-Rahman told reporters in Khartoum he had no information on the attack and could not comment.
Violence has risen sharply since the International Criminal Court issued its warrant against President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir. He responded by expelling 13 foreign aid groups accused of spying for the court. Rebel groups have said death rates have risen in camps since the expulsions although it has not been possible to verify the reports independently.
Unidentified armed men shot dead a Sudanese worker for a Canadian aid group in the West Darfur village of Kongo Haraza on Monday.
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