Tales of terror: Darfur villagers reveal gruesome effects of suspected chemical weapons attacks

Villagers from the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, where Amnesty International has uncovered credible evidence of chemical weapons attacks on civilians by Sudanese government forces, have told of the devastating effects of the shelling.

Khalil, in his thirties, was at his home in a village near Kaguro when it was bombed on 16 January. He became very ill after being exposed to smoke released from one of the bombs.

“We were in [the village] at around eight or nine in the morning when we were surprised by Antonov planes dropping bombs. When one bomb landed in the village we were covered by a cloud of smoke. The explosion blew me away and I fell down.

“We were rescued and taken to [a nearby village], which was then attacked by people on horseback and camelback and they torched the whole village.

“The smoke was initially black, then it turned green. It had a nasty smell as if something rotten was mixed with the smell of chlorine and with something else that I cannot describe.

Since the attack my son started coughing and had difficulty breathing, then he started vomiting and having diarrhea. Then his skin started falling off.

Mouhaildin, Attack survivor

“The four people who were closest to where the bomb landed, their eyes all bulged out. I was about half a kilometre away [from the explosion]. When the bomb exploded my muscles started contracting, and later the same day I started shaking a lot. Then I started losing feeling in the left side of my body, from my leg to my shoulder.

Later, the whole side became paralyzed. Now I can only walk with a stick. I also vomited a lot [soon after the bomb exploded] and two days later my urine became red. There were four of us whose urine turned red – I am the only one who survived.

“After about two weeks my skin started falling off. [Nine months later] my condition has improved but I am not fully recovered. My skin is coming back.”

Mouhaildin, also in his thirties, was in Gamarah village when it was attacked in January. His house was looted and torched and several members of his family, including one of his young sons, were killed. His other young son became sick after a bomb exploded near to him.

“It was about five in the morning and we heard the echo of shelling – before we realized it we were being attacked. We ran away to the hills barefoot with our children.

“[Two days later] we went back and found the whole village burned down. People were killed: my uncle was shot while taking his camels [out of the village]; my cousin was killed and they took his goats; my [2-year-old] son was caught by a bullet [and killed] while he was running.

“The attack affected the children. My [three-year-old] son was left behind when everyone ran away. The bomb landed near to him. He was not injured but since the day of the attack he started coughing and had difficulty breathing, then he started vomiting and having diarrhea. Then his skin started falling off.

“His coughing started the same day, the vomiting and diarrhea the next day. His skin started falling off two weeks later.

“His urine changed to green; it is now yellow. His eyes turned green; now they are a bit better. He lost a lot of weight – he became almost like a skeleton. [Nine months later] he has not recovered.”