[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 00:31 GMT 01:31 UK
Sudan 'backs' Janjaweed fighters
Janjaweed fighter on horseback in Darfur. File photo
The Janjaweed are accused of 'ethnic cleansing'
The Janjaweed militia in Darfur are fighting with direct support and orders from Sudan's government, a man claiming to be a former member has told the BBC.

"Ali" said he had taken part in attacks on Darfur villages after they had been bombed by the Sudanese air force.

He said he had seen ministers at training camps for the pro-government Arab militia.

Khartoum has always denied any links to the Janjaweed, who have been accused of war crimes against civilians in Darfur.

More than two million people have fled their homes during the three-year conflict.

'Military uniforms'

A man identified only as "Ali" told the BBC's Newsnight programme that Sudanese ministers gave express orders for the activities of his unit, which included rape and killing children.

Whenever we go into a village and find resistance we kill everyone
'Ex-Janjaweed fighter Ali'

"The Janjaweed don't make decisions. The orders always come from the government," he said.

"They gave us orders, and they say that after we are trained they will give us guns and ammunition."

"Ali" - who is now seeking asylum in Britain - said the men who had trained them were wearing the uniforms of the Sudanese military, adding that Interior Minister Abdul Rahim Muhammad Hussein was a "regular visitor".

See which parts of Darfur are too dangerous for aid workers

The former fighter said the majority of the victims were civilians, mostly women, and also talked of "many rapes" committed by the Janjaweed.

"Whenever we go into a village and find resistance we kill everyone," he said, but denied that he personally killed or raped civilians.

Hilary Benn, a British government minister who visited Darfur on Monday, said the man's evidence was "clearly very serious".

Mr Benn urged him to speak to investigators from the International Criminal Court.

Khartoum denials

The conflict began in the arid and impoverished region after a rebel group began attacking government targets, saying the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

The rebels say the government is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

Khartoum has always denied backing the Arab militias, saying the problems in its rebel Darfur region are being exaggerated for political reasons. President Omar al-Bashir has called them "thieves and gangsters".

After strong international pressure and the threat of sanctions, the government promised to disarm the Janjaweed.

But so far there is little evidence this has happened.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The ex-Janjaweed fighter 'Ali' speaks about his activities



RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific