The conflict in Darfur has entered a violent and deadly new phase. Another "scorched earth" policy is being unleashed, reminiscent of the worst waves of government-backed violence that brought the Sudanese region to world attention five years ago and led the US to declare that what was happening there constituted genocide.
Internal reports by humanitarian agencies operating in the region, and seen by The Independent, reveal that the active Sudanese government-backed military phase of the conflict, thought to have ended early in 2005, has resumed, with horrifying consequences.
The brutal new onslaught is centred on western Darfur where clusters of villages have been aerially bombed and, in co-ordinated ground attacks, homes have been looted and burnt to the ground. Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed and tens of thousands forced to flee into neighbouring Chad.
"The tactics are exactly the same as those the government pursued right at the start of this conflict: aerial bombings, followed by sending in the militias to loot, kill and rape," said one source in Sudan. "It is as ruthless as in 2003."