Cablegate: Amis Investigation Report On Haskanita Attack

DE RUEHKH #1684/01 3040709
P 310709Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: An informal Ceasefire Commission (CFC) report on
the Haskanita attack blames SLA/Unity and JEM for the unprovoked
assault. Rebel superior firepower and AMIS poor readiness and
communications capability contributed to the worst battlefield loss
since the deployment of AMIS. End summary.

2. (SBU) AMIS Force Commander General Agwai set up an informal
ceasefire commission (CFC) earlier this month to determine what
happened in the September 29-30 attack on Haskanita. After
reviewing AMIS intelligence and operations reports, the committee
submitted a report to Agwai on October 15. The following summarizes
key aspects of the report.

3. (SBU) In early summer 2007 the town of Haskanita was under the
control of SLA/Minawi. In July Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
forces consisting of 84 armed vehicles moved south-east from Tine,
Chad and attacked GOS and SLA/Unity positions in the Haskanita area.
AMIS Military Group Site (MGS) Haskanita reported a tense and
unpredictable security situation in the area due to the presence of
the JEM rebels. On August 3 Mohammed Osman, the SLA/Minawi rep at
MGS Haskanita, visited the camp to renounce his membership in
SLA/Minawi and announced the emergence of SLA/Unity in partnership
with JEM. Skirmishes between the rebels and GoS continued
throughout the month.

4. (SBU) On August 27 JEM commander Mohammed "Abdulaziz" Nur Osher
visited the MGS and said his forces were in charge of Haskanita.
From the end of August through September 7, the GOS conducted air
bombing raids on the JEM and SLA/Unity positions in and around
Haskanita, in response to the rebel attack at Wad Banda in
neighboring Kordofan which claimed 41 lives. Approximately 1,500
local civilians demonstrated at the MGS camp on September 6,
complaining AMIS was not protecting them from the GOS attacks. The
struggle between the GOS and the two rebel forces for control of
Haskanita began September 10. On that day, JEM commander Nur Osher
demanded the suspension of AMIS flights into the area and the
eviction of the GOS representative, whom they accused of providing
GOS pilots with coordinates of their positions. AMIS complied with
the flight suspension request (through September 12 when it was
lifted by the JEM commander) but did not evict the GOS rep. An AMIS
re-supply flight did not land at Haskanita until September 16. On
September 28, GOS forces dislodged JEM and SLA/Unity from their
stronghold outside of Haskanita, forcing them to withdraw towards
the village. The next day GOS planes bombed Haskanita.

5. (SBU) On September 29 at 1930, coinciding with the evening meal
breaking the Ramadan fast, JEM and SLA/U forces attacked MGS
Haskanita with approximately 30 vehicles. The attack was
well-coordinated and targeted known gun positions, the radio room,
Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), and locations such as the mosque
where the soldiers were concentrated. The radio room was destroyed
in the first few minutes of the attack, cutting communication by HF
radio. The attackers quickly gained possession of most of the
hand-held radios. (The MGS had only one serviceable Thuraya in the
possession of the MilOb Ops Officer). Lacking communications
equipment, the company commander lost contact with his soldiers, his
battalion commander, and his Sector HQ. As AMIS soldiers tried to
maneuver APCs into firing positions, the rebels attacked them with
AA guns (12.5mm) at close range. A few AMIS soldiers grouped at the
west end of the camp to offer resistance, but did not fire for fear
of hitting MilObs, CIVPOL and other staff. The rebels started to
leave the camp around 0400 on September 30 after removing weapons,
ammunition, food, bedding, communications equipment, fuel and 17
vehicles. By 0730, villagers began looting the camp. GOS forces
did not make contact with the camp until 1545 and the AMIS rescue
team arrived at 1630.

6. (SBU) According to the commission's report, eyewitness accounts
state the vehicles used by the rebels bore the JEM insignia. In
addition, eyewitnesses are unanimous in claiming SLA (U) commander
Mohammed Osman led the assault. The commission noted in its report
that it was unable to determine the accuracy of allegations that
locally-hired PAE staff aided the attackers.

7. (SBU) The report states the following conclusions:
- The probable purpose of the attack was for the rebels to replenish
their depleted logistic stock after losing their Haskanita
- The attack was led by Mohammed Osman of SLA/U.
- Vehicles used in the attack had the JEM insignia. Therefore it is
highly probable JEM's commander authorized the attack.
- The Protection Force was taken by surprise leading to loss of
command and control.
- The destruction of the radio room severed communications with the
battalion commander and Sector headquarters.
- The loss of communication resulted in conflicting and unreliable
information after the attack.

KHARTOUM 00001684 002 OF 002

8. (SBU) The report states the following lessons learned:
- AMIS camps and facilities are not insulated from attacks by
parties to the Darfur conflict and need to be alert and prepared at
all times.
- The rebels have superior weapons and fire power compared to the
AMIS Protection Force. The strength and firepower capacities of the
Protection Force need to be increased.
- The layout of AMIS camps is restrictive and compact with little or
no room for tactical maneuver when under attack. It is impossible
to defend the camp from within. Perimeter fencing should,
therefore, limit intruders and provide fire positions within the
outer perimeter.
- Accommodation of national staff, including party representatives,
in AMIS camps negates all security considerations. They should stay
outside the camps.
- AMIS communication assets are inadequate and ineffective. Better
and more reliable communications are needed.
- Factions and persons indicted for ceasefire violations have never
been sanctioned, encouraging recalcitrance on their part and
imitation by others. Such people need to be brought to justice.

9. (SBU) Comment: While the report stresses the need for
perpetrators of ceasefire violations to be brought to justice, there
is not suggested consequence for the violation. This timidity on
the part of the commission may well invite future attacks. AMIS
troops' lack of preparedness and inability to defend themselves is
also a major deficiency and is now the subject of an AMIS board of
inquiry. The deployment of the UNAMID heavy package should improve
the operational capacity of the peacekeepers on the ground in Darfur
but that is only the beginning of having a substantive force with
teeth that can at least defend itself.


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