African Union special envoy for Darfur and chief mediator of the inter-Sudanese peace talks on Darfur crisis Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council condemned on Thursday the escalation of violence in Sudan's Darfur region that resulted in rebels killing African peacekeepers and pro-government gangs murdering civilians.
The council, in a statement read at a public meeting, said those rebels accused of killing Nigerian peacekeepers and two civilian contractors on Oct. 8 could be liable for travel, assets freeze and other U.N. sanctions.
The African Union says six of its soldiers were killed, although the council's statement only referred to five.
"The council strongly condemns the Oct 8 attacks reportedly by the (rebel) Sudan Liberation Movement on the African Union Mission in Sudan personnel in Darfur," said the the statement, approved by all 15 council members.
In addition to the attack against the peacekeepers, part of an African Union monitoring force, the Security Council condemned several attacks against civilians by pro-Sudanese militia, known as Janjaweed.
One was a Sept. 25 raid across the border in Chad in which 75 people were killed and another was on Sept. 28 in Darfur that resulted in 29 deaths at a refugee camp. Government forces attacked a village on Sept. 28
Fighting in Darfur began when rebels from African tribes took up arms in February 2003 over land rights. The Khartoum government responded by mobilizing mostly Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, accused of a campaign of rape, killing and looting.
At least 180,000 people have died and another 2 million have been herded into arid camps.
Juan Mendez, the U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said on Monday that in addition to escalating rebel action against food convoys, attacks on civilians in camps by Janjaweed militia were increasing because there were few villages left for them to wipe out.
Mendez, who handed in a written report and addressed a news conference, was prevented from speaking to the council by the United States and several others, such as Russia and China which, unlike Washington, side with the Khartoum government.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said later that the council heard report after report but took little action. The United States, Britain and others would like to tighten sanctions, such as imposing an arms embargo on the entire country, which is not now the case.
An effort by both countries to do this last March was unsuccessful. Instead the council in March voted to impose a travel ban and an asset freeze on individuals in Darfur region who commit atrocities or break cease-fire agreements but no one has been fingered.
In addition the International Criminal Court has been asked to investigate. However, it appears none of these moves have had an impact on violence with Mendez noting that the Khartoum government's own court trials so far were meaningless.
The violence is prompting some U.N. and other humanitarian staff to begin pulling out of Darfur, a U.N. spokeswoman said in Khartoum.