A satellite imagery project conceived and partially funded by George Clooney has identified what it says are mass civilian grave sites in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, and says the country's Red Crescent Society led the way in digging them. The region has seen fierce fighting over the last few months, as government forces battled rebel fighters, but the government insists it hasn't attacked civilians. The New York Times reports:
In a report scheduled to be published Wednesday, the Satellite Sentinel Project contends that as many as eight mass graves have been dug in the area since June, including two new sites discovered in the past week. It says the images show body bags, vehicles and machinery used to dispose of the dead.
The information and images provided by the project follow multiple allegations by residents and human rights advocates that the Sudanese government and its aligned forces have carried out widespread killings and other abuses against civilians in the region this summer. The Sudanese government rejects the assertion, saying it has taken aim solely at the rebels, not at civilians.
The government has said the rebels are falsifying reports to get the international community on their side. But the Satellite Sentinel Project has released photos that it says prove the existence of mass graves, and points to reports from the Red Crescent that it says prove complicity. "The Sudanese Red Crescent Society has acknowledged collecting dead bodies for burial in the Nuba Mountains as part of its humanitarian mission, and that it was given machinery by the Sudanese government to help excavate land for this purpose," The Times reports. But it says the Red Crescent has denied digging mass graves.