WASHINGTON - The United States on Saturday condemned recent attacks by government-backed mercenary fighters in Darfur, and urged the Sudan government to prevent further acts of violence.
"We are deeply concerned by the recent escalation of violence by the Sudanese-government-supported Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Darfur," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, referring to a mercenary force of about 6,000 men fighting alongside the Sudanese Armed Forces.
"The United States strongly condemns attacks on civilians and calls upon the government of Sudan to prevent further violence," Psaki said.
The Darfur militia, which has been used to back recent government military operations, is believed to be behind recent attacks including #####ng, the burning of villages and other violence against civilians in the Um Gunya area some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the South Darfur state capital Nyala.
Thousands have fled to displaced camps, putting pressure on an already stretched aid system.
"The people of Darfur have suffered insecurity, violence and atrocities for far too long," the US spokeswoman added.
"Together with the international community, we urge the government of Sudan and the armed movements active in Darfur to begin an inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Sudan and reestablish the rule of law."
Psaki also condemned the Sudan government's "campaign aerial bombardments" -- an apparent reference to the alleged use of banned air-dropped cluster munitions.
She called on the Sudan government to allow peacekeepers from UNAMID (the United Nations Mission in Darfur) to investigate the incidents.
"We urge the government of Sudan to uphold its commitments and allow UNAMID peacekeepers unhindered and immediate access to these areas, as mandated by the African Union and the United Nations," Psaki said.