Home | News    Friday 29 September 2006

Sudanese authorities, Ex-Darfur rebels clash in Khartoum

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Sept28, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese authorities and a former Darfur rebel group that had signed a peace agreement with the government clashed Thursday in an affluent neighborhood of the country’s capital, the head of the U.N. in Sudan said.

Tensions between Sudanese authorities and the rebel faction, whose leader joined the government after signing the Darfur peace agreement in May, degenerated into an open shootout Thursday afternoon in Omdurman, a Khartoum neighborhood, said Jan Pronk, who leads the U.N.’s Sudanese mission.

"The situation in Darfur is becoming worse and worse, that it has now reached Khartoum is just another proof of how bad things are," Pronk said.

Pronk said at least one person was killed in the shootout, but other reports would not confirm if someone died.

An official with the rebel faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement said the clash erupted when Sudanese security forces raided an SLM office and took away two members of the group. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said in retaliation, SLM members raided a nearby police station and took several police officers hostage.

The police general al-Fatih al-Tigani, director of the Khartoum police told the official SUNA that an armed group attacked the police station of central of Omdurman and the police officers arrested the assailants without elaborating.

The SLM is the only rebel group to have signed the May peace agreement. Its leader, Minni Minnawi, was sworn in last month in Khartoum as an assistant to President Omar al-Bashir, a post that also would eventually make him the head of a semiautonomous government in Darfur under the peace deal.

The Darfur conflict began in early 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Khartoum government, which was accused of unleashing Arab militiamen blamed for rapes and killings. At least 200,000 people have died and more than 2 million people have been displaced.

The May peace agreement has not halted the violence, which aid workers and rights groups say has increased in recent months.

(ST/AP)

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