A mass grave containing the bodies of 87 people has been found in the Sudanese region of West Darfur, the United Nations has said.
The remains included those of women and children allegedly killed by paramilitary and allied groups from Sudan, the UN added.
They were discovered in a one-metre (three feet) deep pit just outside the city of Geneina in the Sudanese province, the UN Human Rights Office said on Thursday.
The agency said the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were responsible, quoting what it called “credible information”.
The first 37 bodies were buried on 20 June and the other 50 bodies were placed there the following day, the UN said, adding that some belong to the ethnic African Masalit tribe.
Seven women and seven children were among those discovered in the shallow grave.
Local people were forced to dispose of the bodies in an open area near the town, the UN said in a statement.
Some of the people had died from untreated injuries during a wave of violence by the RSF and allied militia in the days following the killing of local governor Khamis Abbakar, the office said.
The gruesome discovery comes as leaders from Sudan’s six neighbouring countries meet in Cairo for the most high-profile peace talks since conflict erupted.
Ethnically-motivated bloodshed has escalated in recent weeks as the conflict between rival military factions that began in April intensified, bringing the country to the brink of a full-scale civil war.
Darfur has been at the epicentre of the 12-week conflict, morphing into ethnic violence with RSF troops and allied Arab militias attacking African ethnic groups.
The conflict is between rival factions of the military government of Sudan, the Sudanese army – headed by General Abdel Fattah al Burhan – and the paramilitary group RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Hundreds of people have been killed and more than three million have been displaced, according to the UN.