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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 21:11 GMT
US convinced of Darfur 'genocide'
A girl drinks water in Darfur refugee camp
About two million people have been forced to flee their homes in Darfur
The US is standing by its claim that Sudan is committing genocide in the Darfur region, despite a UN report stopping short of using the term.

Washington called for the United Nations to set up a special court to try those accused of war crimes in the conflict in Sudan.

It also urged the Security Council to consider imposing sanctions on Sudan.

The report said the Council should refer the case to the International Criminal Court, a move the US opposed.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the Security Council had to take action and hold suspected war criminals in Sudan accountable.

"Such grave crimes cannot be committed with impunity. That would be a terrible betrayal of the victims, and of potential future victims in Darfur and elsewhere," he said.

Sudan rejected the report as unfair and incorrect, while Darfur rebel groups said it did not go far enough.

Meanwhile, the African Union, which is in charge of monitoring a shaky ceasefire between the govenment and the rebels, says some of its observers were shot at on Monday while investigating a bombing that the UN blames on Sudan's government.

Court rift

The report - prepared by a five-member UN-appointed commission - said the Sudanese government "has not pursued a policy of genocide" although "in some instances individuals, including government officials, may commit acts with genocidal intent".

The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the government should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes

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It pointed to "killing of civilians, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur".

But US state department spokesman Richard Boucher took issue, saying: "We stand by the conclusion that we reached [in September 2004] that genocide had been occurring in Darfur."

The report named, in secret, alleged war criminals it said should go before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Mr Boucher said the UN and the African Union should set up a tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania.

He also called for the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Sudan and targeted sanctions against the government there.

BBC state department correspondent Jonathan Beale says the US will discuss these proposals with Council members in the coming days but it is likely to be out of step with a number of key allies who believe the ICC should now become involved.

The US does not recognise the ICC, which it fears could be used for politically motivated prosecutions of US soldiers and diplomats.

Human cost

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the two-year conflict that has exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in Darfur and some two million have fled their homes.

Many of the refugees, mostly non-Arabs, say that militiamen backed by security forces have ridden into their villages on horses and camels, slaughtering the men, raping the women and stealing whatever they can find.

The Sudan government denies backing the Janjaweed militia and blames the violence on rebels who took up arms in February 2003.

Details of the UN's report

ABCNEWS.com U.N. Envoy Says Horrified by Fresh Darfur Attacks - 1 hr ago
San Francisco Chronicle Envoy denies genocide in Darfur - 2 hrs ago
Chicago TribuneBoth sides criticize UN's Darfur report - 4 hrs ago
The Scotsman UN brands Sudan killings 'war crimes' - 5 hrs ago
Peoples Daily Online Sudan calls UN report on Darfur unfair - 7 hrs ago
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