Horror in Sudan

Article excerpt

Imagine a town with a population of about 30 000. One moment it's there and the next it isn't. All that remains is ash, bodies, charred wood and twisted metal. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares or horror movies. But this is not the fruit of someone's dark imagination. Horror on this scale has been visited on the town of Abyei in southern Sudan.

Devastated several days ago by militias, apparently loyal to the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, Abyei appears to have fallen victim to a government policy of launching pre-emptive strikes of the utmost ferocity against regions close to oil wells which are suspected of planning to join the break-away south.

What is so brazen about this crime is that it did not take place far from the concerned gaze of international observers. Abyei was supposed to be a place of refuge from the ethnic and faith-based turmoil that has enveloped much of Sudan. More than 300 United Nations peacekeeping troops were based in the town. Alas, the people of Abyei appear to have suffered the same fate as the Muslims of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, who also inhabited a "UN safe area". …