In late May Human Rights Watch said Sudanese "Janjaweed" militias along with local Chadian recruits massacred more than 100 people in a cluster of villages in eastern Chad. It seems that was just the tip of the iceberg.
The recent militia attacks in Chad seem to be part of a wider pattern of cross-border violence over the past year, during which time the Sudanese state of West Darfur, which borders Chad for more than 500 kilometers, has become increasingly volatile.
For example, janjaweed militia from Sudan attacked the village of Djawara in April. Villagers in Djawara reported that a few days before the attack, Janjaweed "emissaries" warned that an attack was imminent and many women and children were sent to a nearby village. Arrows found among the bullet casings in Djawara suggest that local villagers fought their attackers with primitive weapons. Members of a village self-defense group confirmed that they fought back when their village was attacked, mostly with bows and arrows and machetes, although a few had automatic weapons. After a brief skirmish, the village self-defense group collapsed, and 75 villagers were shot or hacked to death.
Osman (not his real name), 20-year-old villager from Djawara, described his experience in that attack this way to investigators from Human Rights Watch:
"When people were hit by bullets during the attack and were falling on the ground, I saw eight or 10 people rushing at them and finishing them off with machetes. I saw that more than 10 times. Sometimes it was five or eight or 10 people rushing at them. People who did that were mixed [wore mixed clothing], military outfits or civilian clothes. There was a lot of noise during the attack: gunshots, yells.... The assailants yelled things like: 'Right here! right there! They are escaping that way!' or 'We have to kill them!' or 'Djaoub al nubia!' [Kill the Nuba!]."
The following news comes from the UN News Service
UN Refugee Agency 'Extremely Concerned' At Attacks By Janjaweed Militia
The United Nations refugee agency today voiced "extreme concern" at continuing attacks by janjaweed militia from Sudan into eastern Chad and the potential for more displacement of locals in an area where 50,000 people are already estimated to have been uprooted.
"We urge authorities in Chad and Sudan to reinforce security in border regions to prevent further attacks and displacement, and call for more international engagement in dealing with the very serious issue of spreading instability and insecurity," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.
The ongoing insecurity also poses a threat to 213,000 refugees from Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region in a dozen UNHCR-administered camps in this remote border area, he said. Just this Saturday, armed militiamen stole 350 head of cattle from a village in the Goz Beida region.
"No casualties were reported, but this is just one recent example of escalating violence which is causing increasing displacement and sometimes death," Mr. Redmond said in the latest expression of concern at the spill-over of violence from Darfur, where three years of fighting between the Government, pro-Government militias like the janjaweed, and rebels have killed scores of thousands of people and uprooted 2 million more.
The attacks against Chadians by the janjaweed, who have have been accused of committing atrocities in Darfur, appear to have become more systematic and deadly over the past three months and there is no sign that this pattern will stop, he added.
Some 50,000 people are estimated to have fled their homes in recent months after dozens of janjaweed attacks. In some cases, they flee out of fear of impending attacks, and many have been displaced several times. Mr. Redmond cited several attacks since March, in which large numbers of local inhabitants were reportedly killed, including the massacre of more than 100 people in one attack alone in April on the village of Djawara.
UNHCR teams have interviewed many of the displaced, who said that on several occasions, they recognized Chadians from other tribes taking part in attacks together with the Sudanese janjaweed militia, alleging that those Chadians had concluded agreements with the militia to avoid attacks on their own properties and livestock.
The arrival of additional displaced people in Chadian villages and towns often strains already limited resources, including water. For example Goz Beida, with 6,000 local inhabitants, hosts 14,000 Sudanese refugees in Djabal camp and is now trying to cope with an additional 11,000 displaced Chadians. UNHCR has started relocating some of these people to other villages.