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Mali’s jihadists transported to Darfur – JEM

February 12, 2013 (LONDON) - The Sudanese government may have evacuated Malian jihadists to North Darfur from a foreign country, according to a leading rebel official from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

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Militiaman from the Ansar Dine Islamic grou ride on a vehicle at Kidal in northeastern Mali on June 16, 2013 (Reuters)

Tahir El-Faki, speaker of JEM’s Legislative Assembly reiterated that the Malian jihadist groups are in Darfur region after a large-scale military operation carried out by the French and Malian armies against their positions in northern Mali earlier this month.

"On Monday our people on the ground noticed their presence in Um Sidr in North Darfur state and some areas near Kutum ", El-Faki told Sudan Tribune.

However, he expressed some reservations about reports saying they had entered into Darfur through the Libyan border as JEM’s people at Jebel Um Al Owainat on the border with Libya did not see any vehicle crossing to Sudan recently.

"So, saying they came through Libya is not accurate, unless they were transported by helicopters or other aircrafts from Kuffra in Libya to Kutum in North Darfur", he concluded.

El-Faki who was in Paris leading a JEM delegation for talks with French officials said they warned France about the presence of these jihadists in western Sudan, adding that Khartoum may seek in the near future to handover some of them.

The "Sudanese government may deliver some of them to Western countries and demand a reward", he said. "But maybe they also plan to use them to control areas of Golo and Kutum and force the indigenous population to leave their land in Jebel Marra", he added.

The Sudanese army is fighting the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) in Jaldo and Golo, which have been held by the rebel group since December 2012.

Different reports circulate about the fate of the Jihadist groups whose leaders have vanished with no information about their whereabouts.

Le Temps d’Algérie, a daily French-language Algerian newspaper suggested that Qatar had dispatched two airplanes to move the leaders of different jihadist groups, many of whom are Algerians.

"This information has been circulating recently" said the director of the French Centre for Research on Intelligence (CF2R), Eric Denécé, in statements published by the Algerian daily on 5 February.

Faki underscored that the Islamists who are arrived in North Darfur are from different countries including Mali, Niger and Chad and other foreigners. He added that some of them had been already present in Darfur before moving to Mali last year.

Sudanese and French governments have not react publicly to the statements made by the rebel groups on the presence of the Malian rebels.

During their visit to Paris the JEM delegation explained to the French government, political parties and civil society groups its positions on the different developments in the country. They also held a meeting with the members of the Sudanese community in the French capital.

(ST)