Janjaweed massing in Darfur

The Janjaweed have been massing in large numbers in Western Darfur near the town of el-Geneina. The Sudan Tribune reported this morning:

The AU source, who asked not to be named, said: “They are massing (north of el-Geneina). … They have vehicles with machineguns on top and they’re Janjaweed. We can’t say what their intentions are.”

The source declined to give numbers, but described the forces gathered as a “huge amount of personnel”, with pick-up trucks, camels and horses, while a U.N. mission spokeswoman said the militia numbered in the hundreds.

The AU source said an African Union helicopter was keeping the force under surveillance and the government was being notified. The Sudanese military could not be reached for comment.

A former rebel movement said a separate Janjaweed force has been attacking villages far to the east of the Darfur region for the past two days, killing six civilians.

That Janjaweed activity was north of ed-Da’ein, a town about 450 km (300 miles) southeast of el-Geneina.

With regular reports of Janjaweed incursions into the refugee camps in Chad, one has to wonder if this is a build-up for a larger push across the border.

The African Union continues to maintain a presence in the region, with approximately 7,000 soldiers. Meanwhile, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir continues to resist pressure from the United Nations to allow forces to reinforce the current AU numbers.

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