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Attacks Kill Dozens in Darfur as U.N. Seeks to Bolster AU Mission

Witnesses suspect the attackers were members of the Janjaweed militia, a group of armed horsemen accused of driving some 2 million people from their homes over the last three years and of killing villagers and razing their homes.

“The attackers were on camels and horses,” the AU official, who asked not to be named, said. “Reports indicate up to 30 villagers killed and 40 injured and half of the village was razed.”

News of the attacks came as Hedi Annabi, a U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said Monday that the world body would give the AU $77 million to help bolster its peacekeeping force in the region.

The African Union has a force of 7,000 troops in Darfur struggling to protect the tens of thousands of Darfurians in displacement camps that dot the region.

Because of limited resources and troops, the AU has been unable to stop much of the violence, which waned following a May peace agreement between Sudan’s government and one of three major rebel groups in Darfur, but which has since resumed.

The violence has spilled over into neighboring Central African Republic and to Chad, where groups of insurgents based in Darfur are accused of attacking border villages and attempting to overthrow Chadian President Idriss Deby.

On Monday, Chad declared a state of emergency in the capital N’Djamena and in areas bordering Sudan.

“This state of emergency aims to halt the serious attacks on public order due to the rampant insecurity in these regions,” Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor, Chad’s communications minister, told a special cabinet meeting, according to Reuters.

The U.N. package offers $22 million to fund military staff officers, police advisers and civilian personnel for the AU, Reuters reported. Another $55 million would fund equipment, personnel and a special support unit.

The United Nations, along with the United States, has been looking for ways to improve security in Darfur. The Khartoum government has refused a major U.N. force in the region saying such a deployment amounts to colonialism.

In the wake of its refusal, world leaders are hoping to find ways to either increase the level of security provided by the AU or create a hybrid AU-U.N. force that would meet Sudan’s approval.

“Since the government of Sudan is against the deployment of a U.N. operation in Darfur, we are looking at ways in which we can reinforce AMIS (the African Mission in Sudan) to enable it to perform its task effectively,” Annabi told Reuters.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked representatives from the United States, the European Union, China, Egypt, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo to attend a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the Darfur problem.

The United Nations also has asked several countries, including Britain, the Netherlands and members of the Arab League, to release funds pledged to the AU mission.

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