"The Sudanese Government is supporting the Janjaweed militias' ethnic cleansing in Darfur. If lives are to be saved, says one eyewitness, it must be held to account."
THE bombers came, as they nearly always do, shortly after dawn -- great lumbering Antonovs that dropped "barrel" bombs filled with metal shards around the village of Tullus. Women and children fled in anticipation of a ground attack by the Janjaweed, the government-backed Arab militias that have devastated Darfur, Sudan's westernmost region and one of its poorest.
The attack on Tullus in February is typical of the attacks that have displaced more than 1 million people of African extraction in Darfur and killed an estimated 30,000. Use of the army-owned Antonovs prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, the complicity of the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed militiamen in creating a humanitarian emergency that may eventually take as many lives as the Rwandan genocide. Relief workers are warning that hundreds of thousands of African civilians will die in the next 12 months unless the international community pulls out all the stops to pump relief into Darfur by all conceivable routes -- with or without the consent of Khartoum.
Kaltoum Yahya was in Tullus when the Antonovs came, and ran with her 12-year-old son Hussein to seek shelter in nearby hills.
"Soldiers came after the Antonovs," she said. "They were wearing military uniforms, and were shooting at us from cars and bombing us from planes. Then they started taking our camels, cows, goats and horses, burning our villages and shooting our children. Only the Janjaweed burned the village. But then the Janjaweed came with the army looking for civilians in the hills."
The soldiers and the Janjaweed found Hussein hiding behind a tree with three other children -- the youngest a seven-year-old girl called Fatima. They took careful aim, he said, and shot him three times -- in the face, leg and arm. They shot the three others as well.
Read this article on the Tablet Magazine website.