INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: North Darfur Insecurity On the Rise

Published: Mon 17 Dec 2007 06:46 AM
VZCZCXRO3179
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2017 3510646
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170646Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9586
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002017
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: NORTH DARFUR INSECURITY ON THE RISE
1. (QBU) The week of December 10 saw a sharp rise in carjackings,
banditry and insecurity in North Darfur, culminating on December 14
with a violent car-jacking attack on the African Union Mission in
the Sudan (AMIS), whose El Fasher Force Headquarters are located in
close proximity to USG residences. On December 14 at approximately
2030, AMIS Outgoing Military Chief of Staff COL George Partington
and his driver PVT Joof Eddrisa (Gambia) came under attack in their
AMIS vehicle near the AMIS Level II Hospital in El Fasher while en
route to Partington's residence from Force Headquarters. Four
unknown armed men attacked the vehicle with gunfire, two of whom
were reportedly in military combat uniforms and the other two in
civilian dress. PVT Joof sustained gunshot wounds to his back,
resulting in a punctured lung, and was flown to Khartoum on the same
day for further medical treatment at a Level III trauma unit
hospital (only a level II clinic is available at AMIS in EL Fasher).
AMIS reported his condition as stable on December 16. The
Government of Sudan (GoS) did not object to this nighttime medical
evacuation.
2. (SBU) Note: There were initial reports of a second shooting at a
roadblock in El Fasher just hours after this first incident,
allegedly involving a PAE contractor or possibly a military
observer. These reports turned out to be false (but had been passed
to us as "fact") and highlighted how difficult it is to get accurate
information in and from El Fasher during periods of insecurity,
especially when cell phone networks are overwhelmed. Embassy
Khartoum is working with our staff in El Fasher to upgrade Thuraya
phones at our residences. However, many contacts that we rely on
for information do not have Thuraya phones. END NOTE.
3. (SBU) The attackers made off with an unspecified number of
personal effects, along with the AMIS vehicle itself. The vehicle,
later abandoned at Abu Shouk IDP Camp and subsequently recovered, is
currently at AMIS Force HQ for examination. The attack has been
attributed to local banditry, which has increased during the week of
December 10, including the December 12 carjacking of a PLAN vehicle
by armed attackers in an NGO compound in Kabkabiya and the December
13 carjacking of an IRC vehicle in broad daylight from Abu Shouk
(this vehicle, according to the Justice and Equality Movement, was
recovered in Carieri and will be returned to El Fasher within the
coming days). No arrests have been made in the AMIS incident,
although AMIS Deputy Force Commander Karenzi and COL Partington are
following up with the North Darfur Wali and the El Fasher Police.
The Military and the GoS Police are jointly investigating the case,
and AMIS Civpol is monitoring.
3. (SBU) In addition to these incidents, instability remains in
Kutum, north of El Fasher, where between 1,500 and 4,000 "neglected"
soldiers (possibly Arab militia) are reportedly trying to join rebel
movements in Birmaza against the GoS. Current violence has forced
many NGOs and INGOs to evacuate their personnel and only ICRC has so
far considered resuming its inoculation activities north of Kutum
(in Dar Zaghawa), which were suspended December 13. UNDSS has put
its security assessment of the area on indefinite hold, pending a
stabilization of the security situation. (Note: There are no USG
personnel currently in the Kutum area. End note.) There are also
reports of expected violence in Nyala and Ed Daein (southeast of
Nyala) in South Darfur, probably connected to tensions among Arab
tribes (both Abbala and Baggara Rizeigat).
4. (SBU) COMMENT: According to El Fasher sources, vehicle
hijackings are expected to increase during Eid and into the New
Year. Communications throughout Darfur have been equally
unpredictable, with cell phone networks down for almost a week,
reportedly as a result of problems with the relay stations between
El Fasher and Khartoum. The UN changed its curfew in El Fasher to
20:00 and recommends exercising extreme caution and heightened
situational awareness during this time. Embassy Khartoum has
advised USG staff in El Fasher to avoid all unnecessary travel after
dark. FieldOff advised local national staff to limit nighttime
movement in El Fasher and to observe restricted regulations on use
of USG vehicles in this office as precautions. This current
insecurity should be factored into decisions regarding visitors to
the region in the coming weeks, especially as high-level delegations
are planning their travel.
5. (SBU) Tripoli minimize considered.
FERNANDEZ
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