Dramatic video footage and satellite images have revealed Sudanese security forces are waging a violent campaign in the Nuba mountains comparable to war crimes in Darfur, activists have claimed.
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), whose founders include Hollywood actor George Clooney, posted a video online that they say shows the terrifying ordeal of a teenager being tied up and interrogated at gunpoint as a village goes up in flames.
The SSP said a joint unit of Sudanese army, militia and police forces burned and looted Gardud al Badry – a border village so remote it does not appear on maps – in war-torn South Kordofan state on May 18, then bombarded it with artillery on July 29.
"We are seeing a repeat of Darfur without the international witnesses," said John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a partner in the SSP. "Capturing the burning, razing, and looting of Gardud al Badry on video and in satellite imagery adds to mounting, and undeniable, visual evidence of a pattern of indiscriminate attacks and destruction by the government of Sudan against its own people."
He added: "Through this campaign of targeted violence, which amounts to crimes against humanity, and its denial of humanitarian access, the government of Sudan is displacing thousands of civilians and contributing to insecurity in the region."
The video, posted on YouTube, begins with before-and-after satellite pictures with captions such as "destroyed classroom" and "destroyed fence". It is followed by jerky footage in which a young man in a blue T-shirt rides in the back of a truck with men in military fatigues, while village dwellings are ablaze and shouts are heard.
The SSP said frame-by-frame analysis of the uniforms worn by the various forces in the video shows that at least four of the attackers, including the two camera operators, were from a police unit known as Abu Tira.
Two Abu Tira officers, it added, can be heard firing a series of orders and questions to ascertain whether their captive is a rebel: "Tie him down like a goat", "Are you a rebel?", "Let me just finish him", "No, no, no; keep him alive".
One of the officers can be seen wearing the Abu Tira patch on his shoulder as the interrogation continues: "Get information from him, then kill him", "He doesn't know anything. He's nothing".
The questioning concludes with one interrogator stating: "With this flame we extinguish the burning sedition in South Kordofan. By God, we will not give away an inch of our land." Men can be seen waving rifles in the air.
The video includes a follow-up interview with the captive, whom it identifies as Naim Mohammed Hamad Yagoub, an 18-year-old student who claims he was taken away to be interrogated and tortured for 10 days by Sudanese forces.
"They tied me down and took me away," he says. "They threw me in a truck and took me to a cave. That evening, they poured water in our mouths, noses and eyes. And they kept beating us. And then they took us outside. They beat us with rubber hoses and whips made out of used tyres."
"While they were beating us they called us 'rebel' and when we told them we're not rebels they beat us and some of them kicked us."
The SSP said the video of the attack was obtained by the Sudanese news organisation Nuba Reports. Two of its journalists travelled to Gardud al Badry to collect visual evidence and eyewitness reports. They arrived on August 3, three days after a second wave of attacks and an artillery bombardment.
The report offers the first documented visual evidence of Abu Tira participating in, and filming, the systematic razing and looting of a village, the SSP said. It has previously reported that Abu Tira led house-to-house mass killings of Nuban people believed to support the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in Kadugli, South Kordofan, last year.
The SPLM-North has formed an alliance with other rebel groups to try to topple Sudan's veteran president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the international criminal court for masterminding war crimes and genocide in Darfur. The UN has estimated that around 300 000 people may have died in the Darfur conflict. Sudan has put the toll around 10 000.
The Sudanese government accuses South Sudan, which seceded in July 2011, of fuelling rebellions in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, charges dismissed by the South's government.
Human Rights Watch has also accused Sudan's military of conducting indiscriminate bombings against civilians in the Nuba mountains. – © Guardian News and Media 2012