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Cablegate: Update On North Darfur Security Situation

VZCZCXRO8671
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0557 1011321
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101321Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0525
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000557

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, DS/IP/AF, DS/DSS/CC
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU SU ASEC
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON NORTH DARFUR SECURITY SITUATION

REF: KHARTOUM 538

EL FASHER
---------
1. (SBU) Following the shooting in El Fasher's market April 6
perpetrated by Arab janjaweed militia (reftel), armed militia
members re-entered the market later that same day and engaged GoS
forces there while attempting to loot the Bank of Khartoum. Shots
were heard again between 0030-0100 April 7 as Arab militias went
back to the market. A UNDSS source reported on April 7 that one
more person died of injuries from April 6 shooting, which would
bring the death toll to two. However, the North Darfur Minister of
Health told FieldOff on April 9 that he had visited the hospital
where three wounded had been admitted and confirmed, contrary to
inflated press numbers and other reports, that only one person had
died in the violence.

2. (SBU) By April 8, the market area was relatively quiet, with
limited traffic and with roughly half the shops open for business.
The GoS security presence remained high in the market area,
including Military Intelligence near the Bank of Khartoum. As of
noon on April 9, regular activity in and through the market area had
resumed, with a continued armed GoS presence on the scene. 2. (SBU)
GoS helicopter "gunships" were observed for two days in a row over
the city following the shooting incidents, and the GoS security
presence around town remained high, with frequent GoS vehicle
movement to the military area of the city near the Wali's
residence.

KABKABIYA, TAWILA AND KUTUM
----------------------------
3. (SBU) In a similar incident, local eyewitnesses reported April 7
that a group of Arab militia, numbering up to ten, entered the
Kabkabiya market and picked a fight with GoS soldiers there.
Exchange of fire ensued, and three people were killed (confirmed by
the North Darfur Minister of Health on April 9), with three others
in the hospital being treated for injuries. GoS soldiers later
entered the market area to secure it, and as of 1700h on April 7,
the area was calm. The Arab militia perpetrators were reported to
be on the move north of Kabkabiya in two vehicles.

4. (SBU) Similar disturbances were reported at the Tawila market on
April 8. UNAMID sources noted that on April 8 a 12-vehicle convoy
of El Fasher Arab militia members (whom the Deputy Force Commander
specified should be labeled "janjaweed") passed through Zam Zam
toward Tawila and Kabkabiya.

5. (SBU) UNAMID sources on April 9 also said that Kutum Arab
militias are currently mobilizing to join with El Fasher Arab
militias in a show of solidarity over their shared discontent with
the GoS failure to pay their salaries and with the GoS conscription
policies for its Popular Defense Forces. UNAMID predicted more
problems with these groups in Kutum, especially given that April 10
is the main market day there, and the Deputy Force Commander ordered
all UNAMID sector locations be put on alert.

6. (SBU) Comment: Such events demonstrate the volatile and dynamic
nature of power relationships in Darfur. These are clashes between
Arab militias armed and paid (sometimes) by the authorities and
their patrons in the Sudanese regimes. The Arab tribal militias are
terrifying to civilians but they can be fickle allies for the regime
when they are not paid. Many believe that they were used by the
authorities but have not been adequately compensated for their
losses in "battle." They are a paradoxical but real part of the
mosaic of instability and violence in this region. End comment.

7. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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