Amnesty International has called on Sudanese authorities to take action following an attack on protesters by an armed group affiliated with the state security forces, that saw nine people killed and at least 17 others wounded in Fata Borno, North Darfur, on Monday.
Residents of Fata Borno, a settlement of internallly displaced people, had been demonstrating since 6 July. Their demands included better security and protection of their crops, as well as the ousting of officials affiliated with the regime of toppled President Omar al-Bashir.
Witnesses said that members of the Janjaweed militia riding motorbikes, camels and horses stormed the protest camp on 13 July, while police failed to intervene to stop the brutal attack.
The armed group also took part in looting and burned down the local market and a number of homes.
The Janjaweed is an ethnic Arab militia organised and armed by the state following a rebel insurrection in Darfur in 2003. It has been accused of ethnic cleansing, mass rape and looting in the eastern province.
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is an officialised offshoot of the Janjaweed, which has been linked to many attacks on civilians in Sudan's conflict zones.
Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said: "The people of Darfur have the right to have their voices heard and to be able to protest peacefully."
"The authorities in Sudan must immediately review their security operations in Darfur to ensure that they effectively protect civilians against these deliberate, unprovoked attacks by armed militias."
Muchena called for an impartial investigation into the attack, as well as probes into "all other allegations of serious human rights committed by the militia group".
Authorities "must end the impunity enjoyed by the security forces and armed groups that have inflicted death, pain and suffering on the people of Darfur for 17 years. Now is the time to hold those suspected of criminal responsibility for these attacks to justice in fair trials - as well as the security forces assigned to the area and under whose watch the attacks keep happening", Muchena added.
The rights group director also called on authorities to ensure unrestricted and secure access for humanitarian organisations to deliver assistance to those whose homes were looted and burned.
Darfur's residents have endured decades of deadly violence at the hands of from armed militia, and have also been caught in the middle of fights between militia groups and government forces.
The violence has resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 people, and the displacement of more than 2 million since 2003, according to Amnesty's figures.