France wants investigation into alleged Sudan chemical weapons use

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Friday it wanted an international investigation to decide whether Sudanese government forces had used chemical weapons in Darfur after allegations in a “worrying” report by Amnesty International.

The rights group said on Thursday the government has carried out at least 30 likely chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January using what two experts concluded was a probable blister agent.

Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal, describing the report as “worrying”, said it carried very serious allegations which had to be investigated.

“We think that the report raises questions for the international community and so the relevant institutions should look closely into it and examine the seriousness of the claims to establish the reality,” he told reporters.

The rights group estimated that up to 250 people may have died as a result of exposure to the chemical weapons agents.

Sudanese U.N. Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed said on Thursday in a statement that the Amnesty report was “utterly unfounded” and denied that Sudan possessed any kind of chemical weapons.

Nadal said Paris wanted The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague to investigate thoroughly as well as the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to shed some light on events.

Amnesty said the most recent attack occurred on Sept. 9. Its investigation was based on satellite imagery, more than 200 interviews and expert analysis of images showing injuries.

Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Richard Balmforth