The United States accused Sudan of targeting civilians in recent airstrikes, including one that destroyed a Bible school in South Kordofan, an oil-rich Sudanese province that borders the newly-created independent country of South Sudan….The Sudanese government could not be immediately reached for comment, but has said in the past that it is targeting rebels in the area….
More than 78,000 people have fled South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since August last year after an armed rebellion took root, the United Nations reported. The Sudanese government is thought to have responded to the rebellion by conducting sustained air raids with the use of Russian-made Antonov bombers, which have raised concerns over civilian casualties.
Decades of civil war between the north and south, costing as many as 2 million lives, formally ended with a U.S.-brokered peace treaty in 2005. But before South Sudan gained independence in July of last year, human rights monitors expressed concerns that longstanding grievances could again lead to violence consuming the region. In November, there were several days of bombings near an entry point for refugees at the border, the United Nations reported. It did not specify who launched the bombs.
U.S. accuses Sudan of bombing civilians, CNN.com, Feb. 3, 2012
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed through the analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery collected on 27 May the intentional destruction of approximately one-third of all civilian structures in Abyei town by the Government of Sudan and northern-aligned militia forces. SSP has documented multiple violations of international humanitarian law in Abyei town. These abuses can constitute war crimes, including violations of the Geneva Conventions, and in some cases they may represent crimes against humanity.
The imagery captures at least ten SAF main battle tanks consistent with T-55s or T-64s, three mobile artillery pieces, heavy equipment transports, heavy trucks and infantry fighting vehicles in Abyei town. Widespread looting, debris, and destruction of property is visible, including the ransacking of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) storage facility. Additionally, SSP confirms the destruction of Banton Bridge on the Kiir River south of Abyei town. This is consistent with reports that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) detonated the bridge.
Satellite imagery analyzed by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative with support from DigitalGlobe provides new evidence of SAF forces carrying out extensive and wanton destruction and appropriation of property without the justification of military necessity. The attacks on civilian objects under the SAF’s occupation of Abyei town constitute violations of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and its First and Second Additional Protocols of 1977 to which Sudan is party.
Tanks and attack helicopters have been spotted near the volatile Abyei region of Sudan, escalating concerns that northern and southern forces are engaging in a mass buildup of weaponry as negotiations between the sides continue to stagnate. New satellite images, obtained by the Satellite Sentinel Project, showed what appear to be nine northern armored tanks, attack helicopters, pickup trucks and a fixed-wing airplane that have been positioned in the contested area over the past two months. Northern and southern Sudanese have fought for years over Abyei, a section of oil-endowed land spanning the country’s regions and religions. As southern Sudanese independence inches closer, fighting has escalated between ethnic southern and northern tribes in the area. “Abyei is the critical linchpin in the country’s peaceful transition into two Sudans,” said Eliza Griswold, senior fellow at the New America Foundation. In March, the Satellite Sentinel Project published images depicting the destruction of a village near Abyei that had reportedly been burned to the ground. On Thursday, the project said that militarization of the region had escalated to the point where Sudan’s national army was positioning its own weapons along the border.
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has released new satellite imagery confirming the intentional burning of a third village, Tajalei, in Sudan’s Abyei region, in addition to the deliberate destruction since March 2 of the villages of Maker Abior and Todach. At least 300 buildings at Tajalei were intentionally destroyed by fire, according to Satellite Sentinel Project analysis of the DigitalGlobe satellite image, taken March 6 and analyzed by UNITAR/UNOSAT and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, with additional analysis by DigitalGlobe. Roughly two-thirds of those buildings appear to be consistent with civilian residential structures, known as tukuls.
George Clooney, who conceived of the Satellite Sentinel Project during a trip to Southern Sudan with Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast, stated:”The Satellite Sentinel Project is the first to confirm the widespread and systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure across the Abyei region…Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast stated:”Satellite imagery combined with on-the-ground analysis is pointing to a deliberate attempt to subvert peace efforts by elements associated with the Khartoum government. By trying to displace Dinka residents from parts of Abyei, the case is strengthened to further divide the Abyei region between North and South. If mediators and concerned governments acquiesce to this strategy, it would legitimize local population clearing efforts and would be a recipe for a wider war.”
On Friday, SSP released a report, “Flashpoint: Abyei,” documenting a significant increase in military activity by apparent Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in South Kordofan state, as well as apparent Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) buildup south of Abyei. The continuing militarization of this tense region, including evidence of battle tanks and other heavy equipment, has contributed to an already volatile situation. The SSP images, taken by DigitalGlobe, confirm widely reported attacks on multiple villages in the Abyei region since Sunday, February 27. Sources on the ground report the fighting may have begun between armed Misseriya and southern police, but that elements of the Popular Defense Force militias, historically supported by the Sudanese Armed Forces, participated in the attacks…
Excerpt, Sudan: Satellite Sentinel Project Confirms Intentional Burning of Third Village in Contested Abyei Region, AllAfrica.com, Mar. 7, 2011