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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Sudan militiamen face amputations
Janjaweed fighter on horseback in Darfur region, 25 April
The Janjaweed often fight on horseback, or use camels
Ten members of Sudan's pro-government militia have been sentenced to have a hand and a foot amputated for their role in attacks in Darfur.

In the first convictions of members of the Janjaweed militia, they were also sentenced to six years in prison for offences including murder and robbery.

Tens of thousands have died in Darfur, and more than 1m have fled their homes in the face of militia attacks.

Aid agencies warn that thousands more could die from hunger and disease.

Meanwhile, human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Janjaweed of using mass rape in their conflict with Darfur's non-Arab groups.

Sharia law

The 10 convictions were passed by a court in the South Darfur capital, Nyala.

The men will have their left hand and right foot cut off, according to Sudan's version of Islamic Sharia law.

The six men raped my daughter, who is 25 years old, in front of me, my wife and the young children
H, a man from Magarsa

It is not clear when the sentences will be carried out.

The Sudan Media Centre, close to the government, reports that another similar case will be heard later.

It quoted a lawyer as saying the sentences showed the government's keenness to enforce the rule of law.

Girls as young as eight and women of 80 have been raped, says Amnesty International, which wants an inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Peace talks between the government and Darfur rebels broke down on Saturday.

Public humiliation

Amnesty accuses the international community of not doing enough to protect women in Darfur and also in refugee camps in neighbouring Chad, where many have fled.

The human rights group also directly accuses the Sudanese government of supporting the attacks by the Janjaweed militia.

But in a BBC interview, the Sudanese ambassador to London, Dr Hasan Abdin, denied his government was complicit in the attacks and described Amnesty's evidence as "flimsy and exaggerated".

He called for a thorough investigation into any sexual abuse in Darfur.

"Rape crimes need to be investigated in a very thorough manner in a court of justice and not in reports by reporters," he said.

In its report Rape as a Weapon of War, Amnesty publishes the testimonies of some of the hundreds of women its researchers have spoken to.

"I was sleeping when the attack on Disa [village] started. I was taken away by the attackers, they were all in uniforms," said a female refugee from Disa.

"They took dozens of other girls and made us walk for three hours. During the day we were beaten and they were telling us: 'You, the black women, we will exterminate you, you have no god.' At night we were raped several times. The Arabs guarded us with arms and we were not given food for three days."

In many cases, women have been raped in public, in front of their husbands, relatives, or the wider community, Amnesty says. This is in order to humiliate them, their family and the entire group.

Amnesty calls for an international commission of inquiry into the conflict in Darfur, including claims that the widespread rapes are part of a campaign of genocide against the region's non-Arab population.

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