And now, if this AP article is accurate, something really bad is brewing in El Fasher as Janjaweed, rebels, and Sudanese troops appear to be preparing for battle
Pro-government janjaweed militiamen killed three students in one of Darfur's main towns, where the situation was highly volatile Wednesday, as rebels massed outide the town shaken by protests and riots, a U.N. official in Darfur said.
A coalition of Darfur rebels warned Tuesday it could attack El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur province, to protect the population from the janjaweed militia that looted the town's main market a day earlier. A U.N. official said the rebels were gathered about 10 kilometers (6 miles) outside El Fasher.
"That they take the town is highly unlikely, but we're preparing for the possibility of a quick raid," said the official on the telephone. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The United Nations evacuated 135 staff, diplomats and aid workers from El Fasher by late Tuesday, said Dawn Blalock, the spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan.
Some civilians and refugees on Wednesday rioted outside the base of African Union peacekeepers on El Fasher's outskirts, stoning peacekeepers' vehicles and burning down shops, , a U.N. official said. Refugees have complained the peacekeepers do not do enough to protect them from janjaweed.
Sporadic shooting could be heard in various parts of the city, shops and schools were closed and the Sudanese army had heavily deployed in the town, the official said.
The Sudanese military transported janjaweed fighters into North Darfur to help in an offensive against rebels launched in the fall, observers say. The janjaweed recently moved into El Fasher.
But it was not clear how much control the army had over them, U.N. and aid workers in the town said. There have been several incidents were the militia clashed with the regular government forces.
Violence broke out on Monday when janjaweed fighters looted an El Fasher cattle market and then clashed with former rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement, killing two and losing two of their own men, the AU peacekeeping mission to Darfur said.
SLM leader Minni Minawi, who is the only rebel leader to sign a peace deal with Khartoum and is now part of the government, set an ultimatum for Khartoum to rein in the janjaweed by the end of December. Khartoum denies backing the militia, but agreed to disarm them under the May peace deal.
Late Tuesday, janjaweed attacked students from El Fasher's university, killing one. On Wednesday, two students in a group demonstrating against the assault were also slain by janjaweed, an aid worker and an U.N. official in El Fasher said, on conditions of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
U.N. staff and aid workers were also largely evacuating zones of eastern Chad close to the border with Darfur. The evacuations threaten to leave more than half of the 200,000 Darfur refugees living in Chad without humanitarian assistance, the U.N. refugee UNHCR said.