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AU says no evidence Sudan backing Chadian rebels

Feb 2, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — African forces operating in the violent Darfur region have no evidence to back Chadian accusations that Sudan is supporting Chadian insurgents on Sudanese soil, the head of the mission said on Thursday.

Chadian government troops guard rebel prisoners following an attack by Chadian rebels and army deserters on the town of Adre on the eastern border with Sudan, December 19, 2005. (Reuters).

The African Union’s special envoy in Sudan, Baba Gana Kingibe, said that Sudan had in fact taken steps to deter the Chadian guerrillas, many of whom took refuge in the west of Sudan, from attacking its eastern neighbour.

"We have no evidence of the Sudanese authorities supporting the Chadian rebels ... direct or indirect," he told reporters in Khartoum.

Chadian army deserters and other dissidents sworn to oust President Idriss Deby attacked the Chadian border town of Adre in December. Chad said the attack came from Sudanese territory and declared a "state of belligerence" with its neighbour.

Kingibe said the Chadian tensions had "further compounded" an already complex security situation in Darfur, where almost three years of conflict has killed tens of thousands and forced more than 2 million from their homes.

The AU has almost 7,000 troops monitoring a tenuous truce between non-Arab rebels and government forces in Darfur. The pan-African body is also mediating peace talks which have made little progress towards resolving the troubles.

Kingibe said that the Sudan government had told Chadian army deserters to disarm if they wanted asylum and on one occasion had handed confiscated arms over to the Chadian authorities.

Sudanese authorities arrested 20 Chadian rebels, including one leader, in Khartoum during an AU summit last month, but later released them. Sudan denies any support for the insurgents.

Many tribes span the long and porous Chad-Sudan border and Deby himself took power in an uprising he launched from Darfur in 1990.

(ST/Reuters)