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30 civilians killed in Darfur

Forty others were injured after an attack by unknown armed militias on Sirba village in Sudan's embattled Darfur region.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 19:24 IST

At least 30 civilians have been killed and 40 injured after an attack by unknown armed militias on Sirba village in Sudan's embattled Darfur region, an African Union (AU) official said on Tuesday.

"The assailants were said to be on camels and horses, and the village was razed," said the AU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The AU said it is conducting an investigation into the incident.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that the UN will propose a "hybrid" peacekeeping force for Darfur to Sudanese officials at talks on the conflict to be held in Ethiopia later this week.

Sudan has refused to allow the AU to fully transfer its cash-strapped mission to the United Nations, accusing the world body of attempting to colonise Sudan.

The UN has suggested a beefed-up AU force, operating with UN logistical support.

The attack Saturday was the latest in a recent series of widely condemned raids by armed militias who are believed to be members of Darfur's notorious government-backed janjaweed.

The AU mission currently has only about 7,000 troops patrolling a remote area the size of France and critics charge that its weak mandate does not allow it to adequately protect civilians.

Observers suggest a compromise may be the only way to prevent more bloodshed in Darfur.

The three-and-a-half year conflict began when rebels attacked government positions, complaining that the remote region remained undeveloped due to neglect by the central government.

Sudan's government is charged with arming nomadic Arab tribes to crush the rebellion.

Tens of thousands have died and some 2 million more have been displaced by the fighting in Darfur and eastern Chad.