Satellite images of the South Kordofan state in Sudan reveal mass graves that are thought to have hundreds of bodies buried underneath.
A Sudanese monitoring group called The Satellite Sentinel Project, founded by Hollywood actor George Clooney, analyzed satellite images and determined that the graves were part of a rumored ethnic cleansing push in the northern state.
These were not graves from the decades of civil war that tormented Sudan for much of its history. Rather, the graves are fresh, made a month ago.
The burial pits suggest that reports of Sudanese army atrocities in the area are true. In recent months, violence has escalated between the North and South in advance of South Sudan's new independence. According to human rights organizations, northern soldiers had been going house to house in Kadugli and murdering people suspected to be southern sympathizers and ex-rebels.
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has revealed visual evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan, which corroborates new eyewitness reports, obtained by SSP, of systematic killings and mass burials in this conflict-torn region of Sudan. The evidence found by SSP is consistent with allegations that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and northern militias have engaged in a campaign of killing civilians, stated George Clooney's Sudanese monitoring group.
Violence escalated between North and Sudan this spring when Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir sent troops into the disputed border region of Abyei. More than 100,000 Sudanese have been displaced by the occupation and subsequent retaliations.
South Sudan declared its independence from Sudan on July 9, holding a celebration in Juba that was attended by Bashir. Sudan and the South Sudanese government have signed an armistice treaty, and so far military action in the region has halted.
The revelations about the mass graves will likely anger South Sudan. Sadly, both nations are prone to use violence as a first-response.