UN Council calls on Sudan to allow `mass rape` investigation

The UN Security Council on Wednesday called on Sudan to allow peacekeepers to investigate allegations of a mass rape in Darfur after Khartoum blocked access for the mission.

The 15-member council said in a statement that the UN-African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) must be granted "full and unrestricted freedom without delay... so as to enable them to conduct a full and transparent investigation."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday made the same appeal after Sudan refused to allow a UNAMID team to travel to the village of Tabit following a report that Khartoum troops had raped 200 women and girls there.

A UNAMID team was able to travel to Tabit on November 9, but said it found no evidence to support the allegations of rape and had asked Khartoum to follow up with a second visit.

An internal UN report obtained by AFP said the Sudanese military had tried to intimidate villagers during the first visit.

There was a heavy presence of Sudanese soldiers who followed the monitors and recorded interviews with the villagers, according to the report.

The council expressed concern over the rape allegations and urged Sudan to conduct its own thorough investigation while allowing UNAMID to speak to villagers in Tabit.

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