Home | News    Monday 6 October 2003

Dozens reported killed or wounded in attack in western Sudan

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KHARTOUM, Oct 6 (AFP) — Some 1,000 armed men aboard four-wheel drive vehicles killed or wounded dozens of people in a three-pronged assault on a western Sudanese town on Saturday, a Sudanese member of parliament was quoted as saying Monday.

Men aboard Toyota Landcruisers or similar vehicles staged the assault on Kulbus in West Darfur state, prompting the government to send troops to contain the situation and restore calm, MP Beshir Ibrahim Yahia told the independent Al Ayam daily.

Yahia said only that anonymous groups had staged attacks from three directions, killing or wounding dozens of people before withdrawing from the town after sunset on Saturday, Al Ayam reported.

However, Al Ayam quoted the German-based vice-chairman of the Justice and Equality Movement, Mussa Hassan Jeru, as saying over the telephone that his group launched the attack in retaliation for attacks by pro-government Arab militias.

The Justice and Equality Movement is smaller than the better-known Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), but is composed of the same ethnic Africans and shares the same goals of obtaining better treatment from the central government.

Jeru charged that the government had ignored his group’s appeals for dialogue.

"We remain committed to dialogue with the government and to a pledge we have made for cessation of hostilities but the government has not moved towards talks while the Janjaweed (Arab militias) continued with their aggression," Jeru said.

Pursuing their own dialogue, the government and the SLM met in Chad early last month to sign a six-week ceasefire, though the SLM has accused the government of violating the truce on several occasions.

Meanwhile, a senior Sudanese government official was Monday cited by SUNA news agency as saying the United Nations has agreed to finance a programme to collect weapons from rebels under the ceasefire deal.

Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid said this arrangement emerged from a recent visit to Sudan by the UN secretary general’s special envoy for humanitarian affairs Tom Vraaslen.

Under the truce, official Sudanese sources said, the parties agreed to control irregular armed groups and made a commitment to consolidate peace and stability in order to achieve development and prosperity in the area.

The conflict has raged since February in western Sudan’s Darfur states, where the SLM say they are fighting for an end to marginalisation and neglect of the large, impoverished region by central authorities.

An official in western Sudan said the fighting has cost 3,000 lives.

It has also left 400,000 displaced, according to UN estimates.

Hamid described as satisfactory the food situation in Darfur region after the delivery of 980 tonnes from the US government, 15,000 tonnes from the European Union and 2,000 tonnes from the central Sudanese government.

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