Sudanese government forces who killed dozens of residents of a refugee camp in Darfur on Monday were gathering outside the camp again on Tuesday. Sudanese authorities claim the camp, which is strategically located near the regional capital airport and railways, is a base for Darfur's rebels and want to enter the settlement to search for smuggled weapons. But camp residents accuse the government of trying to clear the settlement and force them to return home under the auspices of a government resettlement plan.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Sudanese government forces are amassing outside the Kalma refugee camp in southern Darfur. Residents within the camp fear a repeat of Monday, when Sudanese troops stormed the camp, leaving dozens dead and wounded.
The Sudan Tribune, a nonprofit news site based in France, reports that SUNA, the Sudanese state news agency, released a statement saying that only seven civilians were killed in the attack, which began when armed refugees opened fire on the government forces. Residents of the camp, however, denied the charge.
The Sudan Tribune adds that reports put the death toll between 50 and 122, with some 221 wounded.
The attack comes at a time when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is already under fierce criticism from the West over the crisis in Darfur. Last month, The Christian Science Monitor reported that he was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide for his role in the killing of 300,000 Sudanese and the displacement of 3.5 million from Darfur. Mr. Bashir has denied the charges and refuses to acknowledge the authority of the ICC.
The Sudan Tribune reports that Sudanese rebel groups condemned Monday's attack. Ahmed Hussein, a spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement, said, "This is genocide happening before our eyes. The international community must live up to its responsibility and protect the civilians." Similarly, Abdel Wahid al-Nur, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, accused the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping forces of "failing to fulfill their duties to protect the Darfuri people."
The report adds that camp residents believe the attack was an attempt to clear the settlement.